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What is the Function of the Inspector in the play An Inspector Calls?

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Introduction

What is the Function of the Inspector in the play An 'Inspector Calls'? John Boynton Priestley wrote 'An Inspector Calls' during 1942, but decided to set it in 1912. Throughout this play, Priestley has conveyed many political and social messages. He was a socialist and his play was a medium through which he could convey his message to people and express thoughts. During this time, Britain was ruled by the Labour government and many people believed in the class system and many other things similar to this, so Priestley's aim for the play was to influence the society about his views. J.B Priestley uses the Inspector in the play to convey his message. Inspector Goole is described as creating "an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness." (pg 11). This description indicates to the reader that he is commanding and authoritive in nature. He has many functions that we discover as the play progresses. Primarily, he is introduced to the play to interrogate the Birling Family and Gerald Croft, but Priestley cleverly uses him to move the plot forward and as a device for the writer to voice his opinion. Furthermore he controls movement on stage, encourages the characters and audience to learn from their mistakes and helps create moments of tension and mystery. The Inspector's purpose can be classified into two levels- a realistic level and a symbolic level. ...read more.

Middle

Another major role the Inspector has as a dramatic is to introduce themes and morals to the play; this not only keeps the audience involved in the play but also might affect them personally. The themes of this play might be responsibility, mystery, horror, morality, class, equality, gender and age. Like themes in this play, there are many morals to be discovered also. For example, one major moral of this play might be 'be sure your sins will find you out' meaning that you will be caught for each of your lies one day or another. The Inspector constantly reminds characters and audience about the importance of the theme of Responsibility. He highlights this greatly in his last speech where he states that "we are all responsible for each other" and that our careless actions could lead to grave accidents. Priestly has given the inspector a very mysterious character, making the audience question who the Inspector was and how he knew so much information. There have been many interpretations mysterious to the identity of the Inspector. The Inspector states that his name was Goole, which may have been derived from the word 'ghoul' meaning ghostly and spirit-like. Also, the name Inspector can be seen as 'In-spectre' where 'spectre' means a ghost, an apparition. This idea can be supported by the text, where Mr.Birling says "I would have seen right through him", hinting that he is a ghost or a spirit of some sort. ...read more.

Conclusion

Sheila: And Eric's absolutely right." They are very regretful of what they have done; they completely accept their responsibility and have understood the Inspector's (Priestley's) message. However, the rest of the family do not feel the same. Mr and Mrs. Birling feel that nothing has happened and they can go back to how they were. This is also the same with Gerald. Nevertheless, I think the Inspector still taught them a lesson, and by looking at the end of the story, I think most of the household members have accepted their responsibility towards their faults. This is also a function of the Inspector's. The Inspector influences the characters to quite an extent; providing the audience with a hope of improvements in the world. The audience might see that this play can affect a person, even if it is not greatly. As a member of the audience, the play affected me quite a lot, regardless of the fact that I already had similar beliefs as Priestley's. The Inspector's speeches raised many ideas into my mind however the final message that I received from this play was that selfishness can cause a small mistake that could affect a society hugely. I believe the main function of the Inspector was to metaphorically be a character of Priestley's beliefs, and to share these beliefs with the rest of the world. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sonu Vinay 10 R An Inspector Calls Mrs. Williams English Coursework English Literature 1 ...read more.

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