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'An Inspector Calls' Consider the role of the inspector and the effect he has on the other characters up to the moment he leaves.

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Introduction

'An Inspector Calls' Consider the role of the inspector and the effect he has on the other characters up to the moment he leaves. The play begins with a family, the Birlings, seated in a room filled with expensive luxurious furniture and yet it does not seem cosy or homelike, 'The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike...' From the onset of the play we are given a glimpse of the reality of the Birling family and there is a clear contrast in appearance as they own expensive furniture and yet it is not homelike or cosy. This can be linked to the effect that the Inspector has upon the other characters. He takes the superficial respectability of the Birlings and exposes the reality to show that there is no love between them. When the curtain opens the family are seated round a table and there is an atmosphere of smugness and self-satisfaction. Sheila is also filled with excitement. This empahsises the atmosphere of happiness and satisfaction. However the Inspector ruins this atmosphere and his role is to destroy the smugness as this happiness is obviously not genuine. Mr. and Mrs. Birling seem like unpleasant characters and the Inspector unleashes the inner most thoughts of these characters and exposes the reality under the veneer of respectability. The opening of this play is important as it shows the Birlings before they are exposed and shows how appearances are not always a true representation of a character. This introduction of the characters explains the general impression of the Birlings and their upper class respectability. During Act 1 we encounter the happiest moment in the play as Gerald proposes to Sheila, 'I'll never let it go out of my sight for an instant.' This is an ironic comment as Sheila later returns the ring to Gerald and this is a direct consequence of the Inspector's visit and questioning. ...read more.

Middle

If you do, then the Inspector will just break it down.' This is a very prescient comment from Sheila. She realises that the Inspector has the power and ability to make these characters admit things that they would not normally talk about. Sheila later mentions Eric's drinking problem which the rest of the family has been completely unaware of and this comment is brought out because of the power of the Inspector and is a direct result of his presence. The Inspector is exposing the reality of each character and is finding the truth beneath the veneer of respectability. The Inspector's next victim is Gerald and he concentrates on this character for part of Act 2. Gerald was the son of Lord and Lady Croft and the Inspector proves that even someone of Gerald's elevated social status can feel threatened by him. As a result of this pressure Gerald confesses to his involvement with Eva Smith. However Gerald does express some grief at her death and was probably the closest to Eva Smith and treated her with the most kindness. He had an affair with her but also showed her kindness and affection and this was the only time she was shown love and consideration. Mr. and Mrs. Birling are callous, intransigent characters and at the beginning of the play Gerald seems like these characters. However, when he gives his account he seems much more like Sheila and Eric. Eric manages to move away from the callousness and intransigence and becomes much more sensitive and sympathetic because of the Inspector's visit. There are times throughout the play when we see changes in Gerald but once the Inspector leaves, Gerald reverts back to his original behaviour. Eric and Sheila also change when the Inspector is present but stay that way once he has left. However Mr. and Mrs. Birling never change their attitude towards the situation. Throughout the play the characters learn things about members of their family that they did not know before. Mrs. ...read more.

Conclusion

He has also acted on the role of a police inspector as the prosecution attacking the guilty characters. Inspector Goole can also be seen as the jury or to some of the audience the audience may seem like the jury. This speech given by the Inspector is the direct opposite of that given by Birling in Act 1. Priestly cleverly uses the name Eva Smith because it is a common name and in the play she represented millions of other people who were in a similar situation. The first time this play was performed was after World War 2. At this time the Inspector's words meant much more and had greater relevance. This was due to the fact that during the war the people endured a lot and faced hell which was hard to forget: '... if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.' This would appeal to the people who lived through World War 2 because they knew what it was like to see hell and they would never forget it, so this reference would be relevant to them. 'An Inspector Calls' is a detective play. However Priestley takes the idea of a detective story but he begins with one suspect and ends up with five guilty people. In the normal genre of a detective novel the detective would begin with several suspects and interview them all and discover the guilty one. Priestley has taken this idea and turned the normal detective genre upside down. This helps to show the Inspector's effect upon the characters as he draws each character out in turn and exposes their guilt. In fact all of the Birlings and Gerald form a circle of guilt which the Inspector has brought out because of his questions. If the Inspector had not visited the Birlings' house the characters would never have known what the others were truly like. He also exposes the truth and shows that even though someone may look respectable, underneath there could be evil. ...read more.

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