• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Consider the role of The Inspector in the Play 'An Inspector Calls' by J.B. Priestly.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Consider the role of The Inspector in the Play 'An Inspector Calls' by J.B. Priestly. What impact does he have for a contemporary audience? Would it have been the same for the audience in 1945? 'An Inspector Calls', by J. B. Priestly, was first performed in 1945, and was set in 1912. In this play, Priestly explores several issues regarding sex, age, and class, and reflects his own socialist views through his characters. This is demonstrated in several ways, which I will attempt to explain in this essay. The first, and most obvious, of the Inspector's roles is to 'inspect' the family. He examines each of the characters, and makes known to all the characters the way in which each one is responsible for Eva Smith's suicide. Part of this is his 'summing up' of Eva Smith's suicide on pages 55 and 56; a final reminder before he leaves. Each character's attitude to their role in the story is also shown in their remarks in this extract. The Inspector's thorough investigation of this family that, at the start of the play, was "celebrating a special occasion, and [were] pleased with themselves", as Priestly says in the stage directions, serves as one of the ways that Priestly shows his opinion that nobody is better than others; even this privileged family can be disturbed at any time, and forced to face the consequences of their actions. Priestly also uses the Inspector to create suspense and interest for the audience, using many methods, including the timing and manner of his entrances and exits. ...read more.

Middle

Settle it afterwards." He then continues asking Eric questions, ending any argument and reinforcing Priestly's point that you cannot get away from your responsibilities. Another way he guides the plot is by manipulating the characters so they say what he needs them to say to make his next argument. An example of this is the following quote. Gerald (to Sheila): Why should you [stay]? It's bound to be unpleasant and disturbing. Inspector: And you think young women ought to be protected against unpleasant and disturbing things? Gerald: If possible - yes. Inspector: Well, we know one young woman who wasn't, don't we. In the above segment, the Inspector asks a question which is shaped to give him the response he needs, so that he can go on to say "Well we know one woman who wasn't...", thus getting the conversation back onto the subject of Eva's death and the causes of it. To give the messages delivered by the Inspector authority, Priestly makes him a very mysterious character. Firstly, there is his name; Goole sounds like 'ghoul', and Inspector reminds us of the word 'spectre', both of which suggest that the Inspector is an ethereal being. Enforcing this theory is his remark "We often do [have an impression] on the young ones", which makes us wonder what 'we' he is part of - perhaps the undead, or perhaps he is an angel of some sort. Another theory, which is that of the older Birlings, is that he is just somebody playing a trick on them and not a police officer at all - "That man definitely wasn't a police inspector at all... ...read more.

Conclusion

In comparison, immediately after the Second World War there was a great desire for social change; perhaps Priestly was implying that men had learnt their lesson, finally, and was highlighting it so that the audience, and anyone else who got his message, would not forget and revert to their old ways. His illustration of the Birling's attitudes and lifestyle was a 'typical' representation of how upper class attitudes affected working class people; for example, Mrs Birling said of Eva, "as if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money!" and gave it as a reason for not helping Eva. It should also be noted here that this play was performed just a few years before the welfare state was implemented, which could mean that plays like this were the catalyst for that change. In conclusion, the main role of the Inspector in 'An Inspector Calls' is as a device through which Priestly can reveal his own socialist views, and prove them. The Inspector is also a partly amusing, partly mysterious character who keeps the audience entertained. He has this effect on any audience, whether in 1945 or contemporary, and Priestly effectively manages to entertain the audience whilst delivering his message by using a variety of different devices, showing that he was a skilled playwright. The Inspector retains his air of mystery throughout the play, and the ending further enforces it, as the Birlings are left wondering if he was real at all. Therefore, for the most part, the Inspector is there to sustain the audience's interest and to deliver Priestly's message to them in a memorable way. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Discussthe role of the Inspector in the play 'An Inspector Calls'

    He does learn more negative than positive things but still we can see that he is slightly more open than his wife. In a theatre performance the actress playing Sheila has a particularly difficult role, as Sheila undergoes a drastic change during the play.

  2. How does J.B Priestly explore the issues of social responsibility on 'An Inspector Calls'?

    In the stage directions Sheila is described as 'a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited.' Priestly is deliberately trying to portray her as perhaps dizzy or unable to make her own decisions. When the inspector arrives Sheila is not in the room, as

  1. What is the role of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls? How does ...

    Birling is never remorseful throughout the entire play; he cares only of his supposed "knighthood in the next Honours List." This is laughable to both the audience and the characters; Birling is a man who can feel no compassion for others because, according to him, he is a "hard-headed

  2. Free essay

    "AN INSPECTOR CALLS" By J. B. Priestly has been described as a play of ...

    For example, to impress The Inspector Mrs Birling becomes almost brutal when describing ways to punish the father of Eva's child - all to show her "power" and "intellect" she so rightfully has. Even there own child's wedding was more of a business deal.

  1. An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestly

    The inspector uses Eva's death to show the family this. He also wants to show them that there is no way they can carry on living and treating people the way they do. Thinking that they are the only people that matter.

  2. An Inspector Calls, by J.B Priestly.

    the mother of his daughter's fianc�e, Lady Croft, who is already, part of the aristocracy. Therefore, it can be seen that by marrying Gerald Croft, Sheila is playing a part in the family's social climbing. Birling shows this by saying, "It's a pity Sir George and...er...Lady Croft cant be with us, but they're abroad and so it cant be helped."

  1. An Inspector Calls. What Is The Political Message In The J.B. Priestly Play 'An ...

    A further example of dramatic irony is when Mr Birling says "there will be rapid progress everywhere - except Russia of course which will always be behind hand naturally."

  2. "An Inspector Calls" - issues raised in the play concerning the social structure ...

    In fact we later learn that Gerald was involved with Eva Smith in that summer and let her stay in a friend's house. Mr. Birling's position in the family is also made quite clear on a couple of occasions. He is the man of the house although unusually his wife

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work