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What is the role and function of the Inspector in J B Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls'?

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Introduction

What is the role and function of the Inspector in J B Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls'? In 'An Inspector Calls', the main character is 'Inspector Goole'. Everything revolves around him and he is in control of the audience, characters and story. The story was set in 1912 and much of the context of the time relates to the Inspector's questioning of the Birling's. Inspector Goole is continuously trying to make all the Birling family members think about their conscious and guilt towards Eva Smiths death. He introduces numerous themes to the Birling family mostly linked with collective responsibility. He acts in a peculiar manner to make others think about their conscious, ' if there's nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt'. In this quote, it is clear that he could be talking to many people, for instance the audience. Possibly, he is blaming the class system in society for Eva Smiths death. This would make the audience at the time feel involved towards the death of Eva Smith. In addition, J B Priestley may have said this to make the audience feel guilty and therefore possibly make the audience oppose to the class system in society and thus make change. ...read more.

Middle

as if he were expecting an answer from Eric. He also speaks for everyone like the audience and characters, as they are tense and thinking the same thoughts as the Inspector. The Inspector tries to hint to the characters and audience about a War that will come if the Birling's, also the audience if everyone does not learn their lesson, they will be taught through 'fire and blood and anguish'. He says this to show that if the Birling' and others, for instance, the audience do not learn their lesson, things will deteriorate. This quote shows the Inspector's direct speech towards class system, possibly showing us him rebelling towards it. This is significant because we know the story is set in 1912 when much of the story and characters conversations involve the occurring events at the time. The Titanic was believed to be unsinkable, however, to us it is dramatic irony that we know it did sink, whereas, Birling does not. Birling boosts himself and his family about their prosperity, and thinks his life will never become tragic, however, this changes and similarly so does the predictable Titanic. J B Priestley has done this to allow us to link the Birlings and the Titanic together making us see how the Birlings will lose their prosperity, and possibly fall form higher class to lower class. ...read more.

Conclusion

Moreover, the audience will see the characters tend to leave the stage when feeling guilty. When the characters go, the light gets darker linking danger connotations. As the audience and characters, everyone is unaware whether the Inspector has actually shown all the same photos because he chooses when to show them to the characters at different times. The Inspector tries his hardest to make Mrs Birling see her responsibility towards Eva Smith's death, however, she does not understand. As a result, the Inspector explains in a heartlessly and harsh manner, 'she lies with a burnt out inside on a slab'. Even though, she does not see the main consequence, he still wants her to know. As a result of the truth revealed, Shelia and Gerald see their guilt and Shelia does not want to be engaged to Gerald. They act understandably, 'you and I aren't the same people who sat down to dinner here'. Their attitudes change towards each other and create honesty. There would be more of an effect on the audience at the time, as it would be a shock and guilt would surround the audience, however, as we do not have class systems, we do not see this as a serious way then the audience at the time would. ...read more.

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