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What is the role of the inspector in An Inspector Calls.

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Coursework- What is the role of the inspector in An Inspector Calls In the play an Inspector Calls, Priestly introduces some very interesting characters. The main character is Police Inspector Goole. He arrives at the Birling's to carry out an investigation of Eva Smith's death. However, there is a more significant reason for him to be present in the play. The play is set in 1912 because this was a time when inequality was high and the social divide between classes was very large. Priestly uses characters such as Eva Smith to represent all of the lower class and how people in the upper class such as the Birling's, treat them. It is also set in 1912 because this was the year that the Titanic sank. There is a reference to this in the play when Birling is talking to Gerald about being a practical businessman. "The Titanic...sails next week...absolutely unsinkable." This shows how na�ve Mr. Birling is. The First World War also takes place 2 years later and Birling has already said that the talk of war was 'nonsense.' ...read more.


His views are summed up in his dramatic final speech: that 'we are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.' There are four key themes to the play: lies, love, pride and status and responsibility. Priestly uses the inspector as a vehicle for putting across his moral and political views. Without the Inspector many of the events that occur in the play would not have taken place. The characters would not have revealed their secrets because: Birling thought that there was nothing wrong in sacking a troublemaker; Sheila thought that it was not 'anything terrible at the time' to have a shop-assistant sacked for being pretty; Gerald did not want his involvement with the girl to come out because of his engagement to Sheila; Mrs. Birling was too cold to 'have known what [the girl] was feeling' and needed to conceal the fact that he had stolen money from his father's office. Without the Inspector's 'purposefulness', each character would not have acknowledged their behavior. Priestly uses the Inspector to show that he is a socialist and that he believes that people have a responsibility to look out for others. ...read more.


After all, 'the girl's [still] dead though'. The Inspector creates a great deal of tension in the play. For example, near the beginning of the play he describes Eva Smith's death. "A woman died...burnt her insides out..." He describes her death in quite graphic detail, which creates tension for the unsuspecting family. He also creates tension within the family because he seems to know a lot about the characters personal lives and many of the members in the family are keeping secrets from each other that they do not wish to be revealed. Priestly uses the Inspector as a mouthpiece for his personal philosophy. He displays his personal beliefs and his outlook on life through the Inspector. For example, in the Inspector's final speech he explains that although 'one Eva Smith has gone...there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us.' This implies that there are still many people with fears and problems such as those of Eva Smith and that if 'men will not learn that lesson...' that these people could be doomed to a future similar to that of Eva Smith's. Through his presentation of the way the Birling's and Gerald Croft respond to the Inspector, Priestly shows that denying responsibility for others will lead to the breakdown of society. ...read more.

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