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Exploring the role of the Inspector in "An Inspector Calls" by J B Priestley

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Introduction

Exploring the role of the Inspector in "An Inspector Calls" by J B Priestley The Inspector can be seen as a dramatic device (i.e. he's got a function in the drama to disorientate everything). He can also be seen as J B Priestley's mouthpiece. He speaks the author's view and in a sense is a symbolic figure of Priestley's socialism. He is a very "moral" figure in the play and represents the complete opposite view of Mr. Birling, that people should only look after themselves. Through his questioning and examination he allows each character to reveal their connection and history with Eva Smith. The Inspector controls the whole movement of the play and makes the Birling family 'reveal what they are thinking' as Sheila says, one by one. No one is willing to open up to each other but, they all open up to Inspector. Although the Inspector may look like an Inspector, he doesn't sound like one. His language is not always that of an Inspector, and at times can sound like a priest, or an Old Testament Prophet! The Inspector says, "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. ...read more.

Middle

Realising that Mr. Birling knows Eva Smith, the Inspector attempts to jog his memory, buy showing him a picture of Eva Smith, which he prevents Gerald and Eric from seeing. They both question the Inspector as to why they cannot see the image with Mr. Birling backing them up. Then Mr. Birling sneakily tries to divert the topic by saying, "I see. Sensible really. You've had enough of that port, Eric." The Inspector notices this but he keeps eye contact with Mr. Birling, sending a message across to him that he can't escape from him. Mr. Birling doesn't care a tiny bit about what he did to Eva Smith, but the Inspector attempts to change his view and tries to make him understand that he IS responsible for his actions, and that he can be the cause of Eva Smith's death. The Inspector questions Mr. Birling sternly and the words he chooses are hard hitting. For example, when they discuss Eva Smith's raise: INSPECTOR Why? BIRLING (surprised) Did you say 'Why?'? INSPECTOR Yes. Why did you refuse? BIRLING Well, Inspector, I don't see that it's any concern of yours how I choose to run my business. Is it now? ...read more.

Conclusion

The atmosphere at the end of the play, is completely the opposite to the atmosphere at the beginning of the play. In the introduction of the play, the family is happy and full of joy, celebrating Sheila's engagement to Gerald. When the Inspector arrives the tension in the room starts to build and the family starts to get more and more worried. However, at the end of the play, the tension in the room has reached its climax, and when the Inspector leaves it slowly seems to drop. When the family finds out that Inspector Goole was in fact a fake, a sense of relief overcomes the room, and Mr. and Mrs. Birling and Gerald, who is slightly ashamed of his actions, are happy and carry on with their life as if nothing happened. Nevertheless, the Inspector, as well as breaking a relationship, has left Sheila and Eric feeling guilty about their actions, who seem to have learnt their lesson, whereas Gerald, Mr. and Mrs. Birling don't really care about what they did to the girl. The role of the Inspector was to make the family realise what they did wrong and help them change before it was too late. But as we see... some learnt their lesson, while others were about to face the consequences. ...read more.

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