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Discuss the role of the inspector, in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley.

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls - 20th Century Drama Assignment Discuss the role of the inspector, in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley. Explain the possible interpretations of him and reactions to him which you think an audience of the time would have had. Explain how today's audience would view him and give a personal response to him and his part in the play. An Inspector Calls, is a play which entails a wealthy, upper class family called the Birlings uncover a story in which their selfish actions which has a detrimental effect on the lives of others. The play includes an anonymous inspector whose actual role never becomes clear, throughout the play. The inspector's true identity is never revealed during the play, which gives this play an extra edge when compared with others. Although his full role is never revealed, some knowledge and understanding can be built up on the miscellaneous character, through his words and actions. Many different ideas could be presented on the specific use and role of the character. ...read more.

Middle

Again, the man may have been a business enemy who murdered Eva Smith on purpose and has arrived to undermine the Birlings. The character may have been a friend of the girl, and has now arrived to uncover her exact fate, and the reasons behind her death. He may want to make the Birlings deeply suffer for their actions toward her and for their selfish abuse of her. There is always a possibility that "inspector Goole" is not a real man at all, he may be a supernatural being. He maybe the ghost of Eva Smith and is performing a pre-haunting of some kind. He maybe a messenger from God, sent to teach the Birlings how to behave and to eliminate their arrogant and self-centred behaviour. He may act as the spirit of natural justice, a collective hallucination or possibly a symbol of the Birlings' guilty conscience. Throughout the play the inspector is used almost as a structural device. The storyline is released via this character in a somewhat orderly and simple paced manner; therefore the audience can understand the play more easily. ...read more.

Conclusion

At points during the play, the main character is discredited on stage; this works well as it breaks the play up more and makes the play less one sided. The audience of the time would have had an immense reaction to this and loved the play for many reasons. The play was written by J.B. Priestley in 1945, however the play was set in 1912 therefore it includes some ironic hindsight, shared by the audience on past happenings. For example this is a reference to the famous liner, the Titanic which sunk on its maiden voyage. To accentuate the fact that Mr. Birling does not know everything, like he thinks he does, he stresses in the play that the Titanic is unsinkable, however both the writer and the audience know this is not the case, as it sunk over thirty years ago. He also makes a remark that a Second World War would be impossible and by 1945, the audience know this is definitely not true, with the Second World War ending the very same year. Mr. Birling mentions that he believes by 1940 they will be peace everywhere across the world, again the audience would know this is not the case. ...read more.

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