There is a lot of tension as each member of the family is found to have played a part in Eva’s death. Each piece of evidence the audience is interested in how each character reacts to the revelations. The most central part of the play for Birling is the scene in which he learns that his own son is shown to be a thief, a drunkard and is responsible for fathering a child. When he learns of all this, he exclaims ‘You damned fool – why didn’t you come to me when you found yourself in this mess?
‘ We realise that Birling was not the kind of father Eric could have felt comfortable opening up to him. Timing of entrances and exits is crucial. For example, the Inspector arrives immediately after Birling has told Gerald about his impending knighthood and about how ‘a man has to look after himself and his own’. Mr Birling continues to ignore the shameful things that his family has done. When it appears that the Inspector might be a fraud he is happy to believe that everything is as it was a few hours ago.
He copies the Inspector and laughs when he remembers the faces of Eric and Shelia and accuses them of being ‘the famous younger generation who know it all’. This is an example of pride coming before a fall a moment later of course he is panicking as the phone rings again. Priestley uses this dramatic device, of timing, as a way of how things can change so quickly. It is like waking them out of their compact lifestyle, and now they have opened their eyes and they can see what their life is actually like and what is happening outside their personal life. The ending leaves the audience on a cliff hanger.
In Act 3, the Birlings believe they are now safe and everything is fine and they begin to settle down from their caught up tension, however, the Birlings find and discover that the Inspector was not real and that no girl had died in the infirmary. This releases some tension, and causes celebration and return of the smug attitude, but the final telephone call, announcing that a real inspector is on his way to ask questions about the suicide of a young girl, suddenly restores the tension very dramatically. It is an unexpected final twist. This narrative plot keeps the audience intrigued.