Discuss The Use Of Dramatic Irony Throughout The Play And How Priestley Uses It To Convey His Message Affectively To The Audience. I am going to be discussing Priestley’s use of dramatic irony and how this has helped him to achieve his goal. J B Priestley’s goal was to tell us that we are all part of one body, this in the play is referred to as the social message. At the beginning of the play the family are enjoying Sheila and Gerald’s engagement, at the time the atmosphere was joyful. The Birlings and Gerald croft are in the upper class. Priestley made the atmosphere like a warm welcoming family.
The play is about a family that contribute to the death of a young woman who commits suicide. Priestley’s main aim is to tell us “we are all part of one body”. This means that we should look after each other the way that you would like to be treated. Priestley brings out his point by using dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is when the audience know more than all or most of the characters on stage.
Dramatic irony is used well with all the characters, the reason to this is that the audience are watching the play years after it is set (1912) this means that the audience already know what had actually happened. Firstly there is mr Birling he makes several references to unemployment i.e., “there’s a lot of wild talk about possible labour trouble in the future,” MR Birling says that they have passed the worst of all the trouble but the audience knows there was labour unrest and got worse in the 1920’s. Mr Birling also states “The Titanic sails next week, forty six thousand eight hundred tons, New York in five days every luxury and unsinkable,” we know that the titanic sank in 1912 which makes the audience judge Mr Birling very early in the play.
We also learn that the family are not close we know this because they keep secrets from each other i.e. Eric was drinking and Sheila never told her mother or father, when the topic of Eric is actually raised and Mrs Birling found out her son drinks she never wanted to hear a word about it. Eric doesn’t tell his family about Eva smiths baby or about the money he stole until the inspector forced him to. Mr Birling is very concerned that there is no scandal going on otherwise his chances of having a knighthood would massively decrease.
Mr Birling only cares about himself and his family. He doesn’t care about the people around him. This brings me onto my next point, If Sheila hadn’t gone to the manager of milwards and got Eva smith sacked then the whole mess wouldn’t have started. But then Eric got Eva Smith pregnant, which meant that he had to now support her. Eric Stole money from Mr Birlings office and gave it so she had enough money to see her through. When Eva smith found out that she had been taking stolen money she refused to take any more of it. So she then went to Mrs Birling’s committee but Mrs Birling Refused to support her because she had been lying about her identity.
Mr Birling is a very selfish man he only thinks about himself and his family. Mr Birling tries to hide the truth but all is revealed by the inspector, as he knows all. When the inspector Questions the Birling household mr Birling tries to assert his authority over the inspector. We know that he will lose. The older generation (Mr and Mrs Birling) fail to notice the power of the inspector e.g. Mrs Birling tries to withhold information because she’s not present at other interviews. This makes us think that Mrs Birling and her family do not share information.
Mr Birling shares information about his possible knighthood. As the play goes on it looks more like there’s no chance of a knighthood. As we draw closer to the end of the play we believe that they will not get away with this. We know that they will not get away with this because Eva has committed suicide. In conclusion I think that Priestley has used dramatic irony very well. I think that the whole Birling household is to blame for Eva’s death. I also think that when using dramatic irony it helps our understanding of the social message “we are all part of one body” means that we should look after each other the way we would like to be looked after. As a result of what happened to the Birlings and Eva this makes us see what Priestley is trying to get at. I think that the social message links to dramatic irony because it helps our understanding and helps us to get a clearer view of what happened.