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What is the role of the inspector in 'An Inspector Calls'?

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Introduction

What is the role of the inspector in 'An Inspector Calls'? When the inspector is first introduced, it is as a Police Inspector. This leads both the other characters and the reader to assume that his role will be to ask questions and collect evidence, which he can use to solve the crime. However, as the play progresses, it becomes clear that there is more to the inspector that meets the eye, as he seems to know everything that has happened to Eva Smith, before the Birlings tell him so. In fact, many of the events that involve Eva Smith are revealed to the Birlings by the Inspector: "This girl was going to have a child" It can be argued that the Inspector uses his knowledge of the events to induce confessions from each of the other characters, so that they are able to see the consequences of their actions. ...read more.

Middle

Because of this he is often considered to be an emotional 'catalyst' in the play. However, the Inspector does not simply make the other characters confess to their crimes, but he also judges each of them: "Public men... have responsibilities as well as privileges." These judgements made by the Inspector are often based not only on the characters' actions but also on their reactions to the death of Eva Smith and their individual roles in it. The Inspector acts as a judge of absolute immorality. In the final speech, the Inspector effectively sentences the Birlings: "If men will not learn...then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish" This quote does not just apply to Gerald and the Birlings however, but to all of the contemporary society. If the Inspector is able to condemn the whole of society, it implies that he is part of a higher power. ...read more.

Conclusion

a very socialist attitude, and it becomes very clear that many things that the Inspector considers to be morally correct confer with both socialist and communist views. As a result the Inspector is often considered to represent the voice of Priestly, who was a socialist, through whom he could voice his political opinions. The characters in this play are often interpreted as representing not just individuals, but society itself. While Arthur Birling is thought to represent capitalism and the labour government of the time similarly the Inspector's role is not just as a socialist, but a representation of socialism itself. In this way the Inspector is used by Priestly to make a political point. One important aspect of the Inspector's character is that he reveals Eva Smiths death to the Birlings before it even occurs. In this way he is a very important dramatic tool, as he raises just as many questions as he answers. ...read more.

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