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"Priestley's play is unusual in that a character, the Inspector, could be said to direct the action of the play."This is a comment made by a theatre critic about the play "An Inspector Calls", and the character, Inspector Goole.

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Introduction

"Priestley's play is unusual in that a character, the Inspector, could be said to direct the action of the play." This is a comment made by a theatre critic about the play "An Inspector Calls", and the character, Inspector Goole. By studying the play, I find that I can justify myself in agreeing with the critic's statement; that the Inspector does direct and control the action of the play. I am aware of how Priestley has incorporated various strategies and techniques of control into the character of the Inspector, which are use continuously throughout the play. Also, of Priestley's use of dramatic irony to cause reactions in the audience and to create certain feelings towards each character within the play. It is clear that the Inspector is used as a "mouthpiece" for Priestley's own views on the social structures in early 20th century England. I am tending to agree with the critic's comment. Inspector Goole can be described an enigmatic, determined and forceful. It is these characteristics, which ensure his control over the events of the play. His mysterious demeanour means that the family is not prepared for the way in which he speaks to them and behaves towards them. He is determined in his search for the full story and forceful in making each character face up to their guilt and responsibility. The Inspector refuses to be intimidated and doesn't back down when threatened, even by Birling's ultimate threat, that Chief Constable Roberts is "An old friend" and that they "play golf together sometimes." ...read more.

Middle

In the end, they do see that they played a part in the death of Eva Smith, and they are quite devastated by it. In the case of Gerald, Sheila and Eric, he is still harsh and condemning but he seems to be more sympathetic towards them and understands their respective predicaments. They fully accept responsibility and are truly sorry for what they did. For this the Inspector doesn't forgive them himself but allows them to see that they can seek forgiveness in future good behaviour. Through the characters responses, he controls their personal distribution of guilt, and also forgiveness. This affects how they feel and act and how they will feel and act in the future. Priestley has made Inspector Goole dramatically successful by incorporating many different reasons for the audience to like him, empathise with him and wonder about him. For instance, the timing of his entry, which is just as Birling is telling Gerald and Eric that "a man has to make his own way" and that a man has to "look after himself and his own" He is fully against "the way these cranks talk and write now" - that everyone should look after everyone else. What the audience come to understand is that Inspector Goole is one of "these cranks" and is actively opposing Birling's views. The way the Inspector's presence and manner are felt on stage would also affect how the audience feel towards him. Priestley wrote instructions for the Inspector to create "an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness." ...read more.

Conclusion

wouldn't know where to draw the line"; also, when he's talking about why Sheila would want to stay - "if there's nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt" However, the most blatantly obvious display o Priestley's own views occurs just before the Inspector leaves the play, in his final speech. It is a speech which is now hailed a the most famous and remembered from "An Inspector Calls." Priestley's socialist views are visible when the Inspector says - "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." This is a typical socialist viewpoint. Priestley uses a reference to World War I to further prove his point for socialism - " the time will come.... We will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." This final speech made by Inspector Goole, enforces my belief that the Inspector is J.B.Priestley's "mouthpiece" for his social views and beliefs. In agreement with the theatre critic, I think that "Priestley's play is unusual in that a character, the Inspector, could be said to direct the action of the play." This is a valid comment. Priestley has created a dramatically successful, controlling character and makes use of dramatic irony to enable the Inspector to voice his own personal views effectively. He has done this by creating a character that puzzles the audience with his behaviour, controls the other characters with his manner and displays socialist values in his speeches. The theatre critic's comment is very true of the character of Inspector Goole. ...read more.

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