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What is the Function of the Inspector in ‘An Inspector Calls’?

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What is the Function of the Inspector in 'An Inspector Calls'? 'An Inspector Calls' was written in 1947 by the English playwright J.B.Priestley but is set before the first world between 1910 and 1912. The play deals with many issues (capitalism Vs socialism and the individual Vs the community). The play was set in a time workers were treated badly and employers made a handsome profit. Priestly tried to get the message of collective responsibility across. A prosperous businessman and manufacturer from the midlands (Mr Birling), whose philosophy from one perspective, provides him with a tidy profit and a lifestyle of luxury but, from another perspective, destroys the lives of individuals. Priestley condemns Mr Birling and his philosophy; he tries to teach us to take responsibility for our actions and their consequences. It is made very apparent that the Inspector is the most important character, because he is used in three ways. The Inspector is used to provoke the conscience of the Birlings; because of this you could say he is the manifestation of the characters' conscience. He is also the protagonist thus meaning that Priestley expresses his views through the Inspector. Finally he is used dramatically as a police inspector and we know that he is good at his job because he is careful with what he says a, not letting too much information out and uses only one line of questioning at a time: 'It's the way I like to go to work. ...read more.


The inspector is successful in provoking Sheila's conscience, because she feels remorse and is accepting responsibility: 'So I'm really responsible'. Sheila seems to take the inspector's words directly onboard and appears changed by this ordeal. The Inspector does not let Sheila take all the blame and easy on her: 'if you're easy with me I'm easy with you'. Sheila is intelligent and independent. Right from the beginning of the Inspectors story she expresses sadness, regret and interest in Eva's story. She is the first to admit to 'killing' the girl and is genuinely remorseful. The inspector again repeats the information but this time he mentions that Eva had changed her name to Daisy Renton. Lies are a major part of this play; they are not simply confined to simple misrepresentation of the truth as Mrs does: 'No. Why should I?' some of the characters find out that their entire lives up to that point were a lie and they must start over again. Gerald gives himself away straight after the Inspector had said that Eva had changed her name. Gerald attempts to deny ever knowing Daisy or Eva, at first he is eager not to be questioned. Gerald seems not to be so worried about telling his story but telling it in Sheila's presence is what made him worried. The supposed romantic love between Sheila and Gerald is just one of the types of love shown in the play. ...read more.


The important points about Priestley's views is that he believed that business men should not make profit at the expense of others. Priestley also believed that the younger generation are willing to change: 'Between us we drove that girl to commit suicide'. Although the Inspector looses his patience once he I portrayed as a very good policeman and is used very well to tell the story and to express the themes of the play. Gerald seems to bridge the gap between the two generations of Birlings in terms of the way he deals with the event. On the one hand he seems to be moved and saddened by the news about his ex-girlfriend and seemed somewhat remorseful. But this guilt seems to evaporate when the Inspector leaves and he goes about deducing how he might have pulled the wool over their eyes. In conclusion the Inspector fills his three roles in five ways: The way he speaks with huge moral authority, cutting short, interrupting and challenging people He controls the situation throughout; The Inspector is not afraid to contradict and be rude to his social superior; The Inspectors omniscience, he seems to already know all the about the family's involvement. He claims he read from a diary but we know this could not account for the extent of his knowledge; He delivers a strange almost religious or biblical speech, which is not the job of a policeman: His whole appearance seems to be a precursor to another questioning session. ?? ?? ?? ?? By Eric Nyero-West ...read more.

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