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Twentieth Century Drama - What is the role and function of the Inspector in J.B Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls'?

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Navjit Singh Surdhar 11T1 12th October 2002 Twentieth Century Drama What is the role and function of the Inspector in J.B Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls'? 'An Inspector Calls' written by J.B Priestley, is set in 1912 and was written in 1945. In the play the Inspector appears to be very plain, dull and straightforward wearing a dark suit, and is rather sinister and suspicious. He, on his appearance, has a huge sense of "massiveness" to him, and has the authority to control and pull out information from his suspects through his persuasive techniques. The Inspector has a sense of fear and trouble about him, which helps create a tense atmosphere. The Inspector represents central concerns and themes throughout the play through his image of law and justice in the play. This sense of feeling about him in the play to the audience shows that he is looked up to, and maybe is considered as being rather powerful. He also acts in a way of making the characters think about their conscience. This also adds tension to the characters and the audience, as this is also a sign of authority and control. It may also show that he is omniscient, and is a god or spirit like figure, which may explain why his name is 'Inspector Goole', as the writer has used play on words, as the word 'Ghoul' defines as a spirit. ...read more.


This ambiguous ending, causes questions to arise in the minds of the audience, as they know that something is going to happen due to a sudden ending of an act, but they do not know what the Inspector is going to reveal next. This creates dramatic tension for the audience and with the characters as the Inspector begins to reveal more on the characters, and makes them feel much guilt. He also has a very direct way of speaking, and makes the characters feel concerned and intimidated when he speaks. He also makes the characters answer his questions to what he wants to hear. "In fact, in a kind of way, you might be said to have been jealous of her." This quote shows that the Inspector has asked a question to Shelia, where he wants her to answer what he wants to hears, and is not really expecting anything else. This makes the audience feel tense, and realise that he is rather omniscient and is maybe speaking as their conscience. This makes the audience also agree with the characters and with the Inspector. The Inspector also creates dramatic tension in the play through many ways. Through his appearance, his dark suit and large hat covering his face creates tension due to the connotations, of darkness, as his suit gives a sense danger, and is a type of threat to the audience and the characters. ...read more.


At the end of the play, the Inspectors role and function has effected the audience of 1945 by informing them of society in 1912. These dates are significant as they both have historical backgrounds which effect both societies. At the time when the play was set in 1912, as this was a time were the caste system was around, and when there were hardly any equal rights for men and women, as women were classed as house wives, and men as the providers and bosses of the family. As it was set at the time before the First World War, Priestley's moral to that audience is to tell them that as the Birlings, and the upper class people need to change their views, and as the First World War followed, he is trying to tell that they will learn through "fire and blood and anguish" which represents war. He tries to tell them that "we are members of one body" and that society is one. He also shows significance through when the play was written, in 1945 to the audience, that due to failing in learning from their first mistakes, in which the consequences was the First World War, has now resulted in bringing the Second World War. Priestley's main message in the play, is telling all of society that "we are members of one body", and that whatever we may do to others in society, affects everyone else. ...read more.

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