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Discuss the dramatic importance of the Inspector in J.B. Priestly's 'Inspector Calls'.

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Introduction

Inspector Calls Discuss the dramatic importance of the Inspector in J.B. Priestly's 'Inspector Calls' In J.B. Priestly's 'An Inspector Calls', the Inspector of the title plays an essential role. From his unexpected entrance in Act 1, the Inspector single-handedly creates an atmosphere of intrigue and tension climaxing with his dramatic departure in Act 3. By using his speech, aggression and authority the inspector manages to exploit each of the characters flaws not only to the audience but also to themselves and he uses his authority and language to strengthen his moral tone and act as a voice of conscience. The Inspector acts like a judge and jury to all the characters in the play and is used as a social commentator and a vehicle for Preistly's left-wing opinions. In Act One, the unexpected entrance of the inspector initiates the tense environment and introduces the sense of intrigue that helps to sustain the audience's attention throughout the play. The previously joyful mood and excitement at Sheila and Gerald's engagement is immediately replaced with a sense of discomfort and the Inspectors mysteriously brief answers of 'Quite so' and 'Yes sir' to Mr Birling's questions only increase his impatience. This uncomfortable mood develops throughout the play due to the inspectors actions such as the way he had a habit of 'looking hard at the person he addresses', making them feel awkward, and his omniscient behaviour; the manner in which he poses questions to which he already seems to know the answer. ...read more.

Middle

This often-rude persistence works because it draws answers out of them before they realise what they are admitting to. One of the dramatic importances of The Inspectors role is to act as a 'voice of conscience ' and he uses his authority over the other characters to strengthen his moral tone. One of the aspects of the play that helps to sustain the audiences attention is the way that most people can relate to at least one of the characters as they all have differing personalities and the way that The Inspector exploits flaws in all of the characters makes the audience question their own personal motives. One of The Inspectors roles is to be the voice of human conscience and somebody that the characters and the audience can look up to. Some of the les stubborn characters relate to his moralistic views for example when Mr Birling talks about his workers being 'cheap labour', Sheila argues that, "These girls aren't cheap labour - they're people!" and the Inspector dryly comments, "I've had that notion myself from time to time", showing his ethical stand. He has definite authority over the characters in the play, for example when he sternly tells Mr Birling that Eric can "wait his turn" and the way he 'massively' interrupts Mr Birling to inform him that public men have "responsibilities as well as privileges." ...read more.

Conclusion

In 1914, Britain was on the brink of World War 1 with Germany and communist views in Russia were threatening the rest of Europe. The Inspector is used to express these socialist views for example when he says, "we don't live alone. We are all members of one body." Priestly was a committed socialist who was patriotic to his country and his disgust for the early 1900's class-system is strongly portrayed in this play - the working-class, middle-class and high-class hierarchy of the time is taunted especially in the way the Birlings are portrayed. By illustrating the Birlings as such a dysfunctional, snobby family Priestly is suggesting that the moral, classless Inspector is a favoured option and hinting that if these teachings had been followed at the time, the impending war may have been avoided. In conclusion, the mysterious persona of The Inspector has helped to captivate audiences across the world since the play was written in 1945. Priestly uses The Inspector to deliver dramatic tension throughout the play and to hold the audiences attention using intrigue and suspense. He acts as a voice of conscience and makes the audience question their own intentions and he acts like a judge and jury to their morbid confessions. The Inspector is also used by the author as a vehicle for his socialist views and it is my opinion that without him, the aroma and apprehension encircling the play would not exist and it would therefore not be successful. Alyson Mobey Inspector Calls Coursework ...read more.

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