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The Inspector is 'an embodiment of a collective conscience'. Explore the role of the Inspector in the play, The Inspector calls. With close reference to the play, discuss how the role should be performed.

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Introduction

Literature Coursework: An Inspector Calls Title: The Inspector is 'an embodiment of a collective conscience'. Explore the role of the Inspector in the play. With close reference to the play, discuss how the role should be performed. This play was a vehicle for JB Priestly to put across his socialist ideas to the public. In 1946, when the play was first performed, socialism was considered a very modern body of thought. Today, it is less controversial, and better known, but the play is still relevant, as it seems that the socialist ideas Priestly fought for are fading out, with greater links between the public and the private sector, and we are going back to the capitalist ways of thinking. If the Inspector is an 'Embodiment of a collective conscience' and the personification of Socialist ideals, Birling is the direct opposite. He is quintessence of capitalism, which, Priestly shows us, promote and rationalise human exploitation and misery. While capitalist values dictate that it's every man for himself, the socialist vision holds that we are all collectively responsible for each other and our society. ...read more.

Middle

On the one hand he seems to be moved and saddened by the news of his ex-girlfriend, and somewhat remorseful about dumping her. However, at the end of the play he has returned to his old complacency and detachment, choosing to ignore the Inspector's lesson and learn nothing from the incident. He tries to discredit the whole episode by pointing to the fact that Goole was not actually on the police force-'Everything's all right now, Sheila' After the Inspector has finished questioning Mr Birling, he moves on to Sheila, whom got Eva Smith sacked from her job at Milwards, while in a bad mood when she thought she was laughing at her. When she discovers the consequences of what she has done, she is overwhelmed with guilt, and no one can convince her it was not her fault. Before this, during the interrogation of her father, she seems taken aback when she finds that Mr Birling sacked the girl for wanting a decent wage, telling him 'they're not cheap labour-they're people' The Inspector has most effect on Sheila, who takes on his socialist ideology, and becomes almost an advocate for him, telling her mother they've 'no excuse for putting on airs', after Mrs Birling pretends that she does not recognise the girl in the photo. ...read more.

Conclusion

Usually, we would not know the spelling of the Inspectors name, because in a theatrical context, words are only heard, seldom spelt. In this case, however, Mr. Birling asks the Inspector to spell his surname, perhaps because he is in need of reassurance. If he is adequately reassured, then so is the audience. The Inspector is described in the detailed stage directions, as 'in his fifties, wearing clothes of the period'. I imagine the Inspector to be dressed in plain dark clothes. Of the time, so he does not look out of place, and his make-up, too, should be plain and simple. His appearance should not take away from his message, and should be eaily forgettable. This should impress further upon the audience the question 'Who was he? Did he exist?'. The Inspector is the focal character in the play, and is crucial to it, because without him the other characters would not have an opportunity to be seen. While the Inspector is important in what he says and does in relation to the other Characters, it is the other characters response to him which makes the play interesting and stresses Priestly's socialist ideals. ...read more.

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