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English Literature

Dramatic effect

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As you read the play, it is important to imagine yourself watching and listening to the action. The stage directions [stage directions: Instructions written into the script of a drama to guide the performers' actions. ] are important in helping us to imagine exactly what is going on

The play is in 'real time' - in other words, the story lasts exactly as long as the play is on the stage. So, what happens in a comparatively short time to create such a dramatic contrast [contrast: A description of all the differences between two things (in this case, two texts). ]? How is the drama maintained and the audience involved?

Setting and Subtle Hints

The Setting and Lighting are very important. Priestley describes the scene in detail at the opening of Act 1, so that the audience has the immediate impression of a "heavily comfortable house." The setting is constant (all action happens in the same place). Priestley says that the lighting should be "pink and intimate" before the Inspector arrives - a rose-tinted glow - when it becomes "brighter and harder." The lighting reflects the mood of the play.

The dining room of a fairly large suburban house, belonging to a prosperous manufacturer. It has good solid furniture of the period. At the moment they have all had a good dinner, are celebrating a special occasion, and are pleased with themselves.

 

There are subtle hints that not is all as it seems. For example, early on we wonder whether the happy atmosphere is slightly forced. Sheila wonders where Gerald was last summer, Eric is nervous about something, Lord and Lady Croft did not attend the engagement dinner. This arouses interest in the audience - we want to find out what is going on!

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