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How does the Inspector enable Priestley to illustrate his social concerns, and why does he use this particular strategy?

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How does the Inspector enablePriestley to illustrate his social concerns, and why does he use this particular strategy? An Inspector Calls is a morality play, in which J.B.Priestley uses the character of Inspector Goole to show the Birling family how the consequences of their actions affect others. The Inspector arrives in the middle of engagement celebrations for Sheila and Gerald, held at the Birling's house. He is not apologetic for the hour of his visit, and is abrupt and professional; the stage directions reveal he is methodical and determined. "One person and one line of enquiry at a time. It's the way I like to work" Mr Birling is condescending and self important, infuriated by not being differentiated because of his social status. "I was an alderman for years - and Lord Mayor two years ago - and I'm still on the Bench" The Inspector ignores this and refuses a drink, because it would be against the regulations of the police service to drink on duty, and he would also have an obligation towards Mr Birling for his hospitality. The Inspector brings bad news; the Birlings are in danger of loosing face and the reputations they hold so important. ...read more.


Gerald introduces the idea that it may have been a hoax and nothing will come of their exposure; "There's no more real evidence we did [lead to her death] than there was that chap was a real police inspector". Sheila is disgusted by the attitudes of Gerald and her father in thinking everything will go back to how it was. Mr Birling says, "I'm convinced it is. No police inquiry. No one girl that this all happened to. No scandal". "Everything's all right now, Sheila. What about this ring?" She feels they have not learnt the values she is now aware of e.g. the impact she has on other people's lives. She feels it does not matter who the inspector was - the facts remain. The whole family are aware that he does not seem altogether convincing as an inspector. He makes judgements about the family member's characters, which they feel are unusual in a police inspector. "We hardly ever told him anything that he didn't know" "The rude way he spoke to Mr Birling and me- it was quite extraordinary". The family is torn open, forced to address their problems, and the parents' look set in their old ways. ...read more.


I think Goole represents social conscience in the context of world issues such as pending war, and in the Birlings' behaviour towards others. Priestley uses Inspector Goole as a device to expose the Birlings. He presents him as a typical police inspector in "whodunits" of the age, in his dress and manor. Instead of simply using one guise such as God or a political agitator, the form of the Inspector allows scope for a range of identities; his message remains the same whoever he is. His identity is less important however, than his message. Goole is the central character who neither forgives nor punishes. The family and Gerald's involvement is exposed gradually and this is another way Priestley keeps the audiences' attention. We do not know if there is one culprit more responsible for Eva Smith's demise in the beginning, Sheila is desperate for assurance that she is not solely to blame; "I know I'm to blame- and I'm desperately sorry - but I can't believe - I won't believe - it's simply my fault that in the end she - she committed suicide. That would be too horrible". We find out towards the end that in fact everyone shares equal responsibility. "This girl killed herself- and died a horrible death. But each of you helped kill her. Remember that." ...read more.

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