In a play, it’s all about the way characters present themselves – what they say and what they do, how others see them, and hidden truths that are slowly revealed. 

  • Always comment on how characters change, and their moods. 
  • Then think how is the author using this to bring out the themes? Focus on: mood, who’s lying, being lied to, or ignorant of important truths? How does this build the themes?

Dramatic Irony – audience knows something one or more characters on stage doesn’t.  This creates tension.

Characters Lie – body language shown in [stage directions] doesn’t match what they say. They repeat themselves, or speak in fragments (i.e. incomplete sentences), sounding less confident.

Character Shock – their view changes or they back down – shown in body language in [stage directions]

Euphemisms – a polite way of avoiding a shocking truth (I’m going to the loo – NOT ‘for a poo’). The Birlings don’t like directly speaking about the dirty business with the girl.

Command Verbs – show bossiness, or control (or someone who’s out of control trying to get it back).

Short, sharp statements – show control. Goole makes the other characters uncomfortable through long, uncomfortable silences. Birling tries to dominate the conversation.

Fragments (Incomplete Sentences) – show that someone’s losing confidence, that their thought is breaking up. This may mirror their psychological state.

Semantic Fields: this shows you a lot about the character and their mood.