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What is the dramatic function of Inspector Goole in 'An Inspector Calls.'

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Introduction

What is the dramatic function of Inspector Goole in 'An Inspector Calls.' Mitchell Ward The play itself was written in 1945 but set in the Edwardian era, which was in 1901-1914. This was a time of prosperity for the middle classes and industrialists. They were unhappy with the poor conditions at the time. This era ended with two world shattering events; world war one and the sinking of the Titanic. J.B. Priestley set the play in this time to make the audience feel more connected to the play as many of them had been through the distress and trauma of these events, which makes it a lot more meaningful to them. Priestley wanted a more just society and this is shown in the play by the characters opinions and how they express them. At the end of the play when they all regret what they have done, Priestley is trying to show how he thinks society is wrong and that everyone is responsible for each other. The play 'An Inspector Calls' is led and controlled by one character from when he arrives up until when he leaves. This is the inspector. He keeps the rest of the characters going throughout the play and maintains the tension at all times. ...read more.

Middle

He enters at a very significant time, during Mr. Birling's speech about society. As he mentions how 'a man has to mind his own business.' From this point onwards, the inspector is doing the exact opposite of this, being nosey and impatient with the family. This annoys Mr. Birling which creates more tension in the play. This may cause conflict between the family and the inspector or even between family members. The only description of the inspector is in the stage notes of the play when he enters the house. They say he creates 'an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. He is a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit... He speaks carefully and weightily'. This creates a sense of mystery in the play to the reader as to who the inspector actually is. From reading the stage directions you think of him as an average inspector. It says that 'he looks hard at people before actually talking to them' which may be to get their attention but it may scare the characters. This shows he is a strong character and that he is not scared of much. At first the name Inspector Goole does not seem unusual or significant to the play at all, but when you have read the whole play and seeing that he disappears at the end, it is possible that the name could be changed to Ghoul, like a ghost. ...read more.

Conclusion

The inspector confuses the audience and characters at many points in the play, which is the main thing that controls the tension and keeps the audience alert and thinking. When the phone call is received at the end, it ends the play with a point of high tension and leaves the audience thinking and intrigued. In my personal opinion I believe that the inspector was a ghost that came to warn them about what was going to happen and why they are involved. It prepares them for the next visit of a real inspector, and gives them time to think about what to say and how to deal with the situation. I do not believe that it was the ghost of Eva Smith because at this point in the play she may not even exist and that may not be the name of the actual girl who committed suicide. If it was the same girl, she was probably still alive at the point where inspector Goole was round. His character has two purposes; to warn the family about what to think and say and to educate the audiences about Priestley's views on society and how things should be. He keeps the audience alert and thinking throughout the whole play which helps them to understand the whole story at the end. ...read more.

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