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Analyse the character of the Inspector in 'An Inspector Calls' by J B Priestley.

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls By J B Priestley In this essay I intend to analyse the character of the Inspector in 'An Inspector Calls' by J B Priestley. I will include three main points to develop and expand as the essay develops. These points are the inspector's role in the play, the effect he has on other characters in the play and his stage presence. I will use quotes to strengthen my suggestions and points that I make, as well as using social, historical and cultural background and perspective. The inspector plays an important part in the play and is a very mysterious character to understand and show, which is why have chosen to analyse this character. He is a stranger in the house, which could show some build up of the character as the play develops and unfolds. The audience is first introduced to the inspector when he enters the house during a celebration, 'Please, sir, an inspector's called.' This would all seem quite normal to an audience but not to the Birlings who are immediately startled, 'don't know him. Does he want to see me?' Then when the inspector enters he comes across as a normal inspector, ' Thank you, sir.... I'm on duty.' He is also wearing a 'plain darkish suit of the period.' This seems very ordinary. The inspector represents Priestley's own views on the Edwardian society and how he felt about the class divide. The play was set in 1912 but was written in 1945, post World War II. This was a time (1912) of great innovation and great threat. ...read more.

Middle

'Gravely', 'cutting in with authority', 'sharply turning on him', 'coolly' and 'massively', all show how the inspector says his line and how it will come across to the audience. This also shows how is behaving, when he says something 'sharply' he might be loosing his temper with one of the family, this frequently occurs throughout the play. When the inspector leaves he seems to have made an impression on the younger Birlings but not so much on the elders, ' You seem to have made a great impression on this child, inspector.' However when he leaves there is a different response, ' He walks straight out, leaving him staring, subdued and wondering.......' This shows that his job is done and he is leaving them to reflect on his message. He makes an abrupt departure as though his job is done and leaves them feeling the effect of his powerful speech, following the discoveries and he awakens the family, which is what he wanted to achieve. It is only when Gerald comes back in the scene and tells them of his discovery that everything the inspector has said disappears from Mr and Mrs Birlings mind and the impression that he made has gone. Sheila and Eric still feel guilty unlike their elders and do not want to forget what might have happened or what could have happened, 'you're pretending everything's just as it was before.' This shows that he has been successful in changing the way that Sheila and Eric see and feel about other people in the society but Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald ...read more.

Conclusion

He would speak slowly as to intimidate the other characters but he would dress in a normal suit, so he looks like an inspector. Even the stage directions at the onset of the play the immenseness of the inspector is evoked in the audience's mind. 'Pink until the inspector arrives... brighter and harder.' The pink atmosphere helps to highlight the rose tinted view of optimism shared by the Birling family at the start of the play. The white atmosphere will help to show the draconian treatment that the inspector will employ during the play. The whiteness also emphasises the way that the truth will be found out- no one can hide from its harshness. The light hits all corners of the room. The inspector has a great affect on the audience when he is on stage as he seems so rude and overpowering and almost unreal. The way that the inspector makes a quick and deliberate exit bewilders the audience and questions the truth. The structure of the play is clearly set out with a celebration at the start, visitor, visitor leaves and then a strange unexpected twist, which leaves a cliffhanger and suspense in the audiences mind. To conclude this essay I will say that the inspector is Priestley's method of administrating an inquisition into the corruption and self centred beliefs that lie at the kernel of the ruling class. The inspector is a conglomeration of something tangible and something metaphysical. As Tim Bezant discusses in his introduction 'supernatural', 'wondering', 'dubious' and 'unreal'. The metaphysical aspect of the inspector is ever evident, no more so when he prophesies World War II, 'Fire, blood and anguish.' This heightens the enigma surrounding the inspector. ...read more.

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