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What Is The Significance Of The Inspector In An Inspector Calls?

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What Is The Significance Of The Inspector Structurally, Thematically, Linguistically And Contextually In Priestley's An Inspector Calls? How Could An Actor/Director Portray His Role Successfully On Stage? John Priestly first wrote An Inspector Calls in 1945, although it was not performed in England until 1 October 1946. The New Theatre in London hosted the performance by the Old Vic Company. The play is the story of an upper class family, living in the comforts of pre-WWI Britain. As they finish their dinner, a mysterious police officer (known only as the Inspector) enters and questions the family about the suicide of a young woman, breaking them down and changing their moral opinions. The focus of the play is this journey that the family under go from ignorance to knowledge, brought on by the Inspector's presence. This essay will explore how big a part of the plot the Inspector is and how he could be portrayed in a production successfully. Arguably one of the most important traits of the Inspector is his use of language. He uses his choice of words to change the atmosphere, the mood of the characters and the pace of the conversation. When the Inspector enters at the beginning of the play, he appears in no rush to question the characters or even explain why he is there. ...read more.


With Sheila the Inspector is supportive, maybe even sympathetic, towards her as she is clearly the most sensitive to the death. As Sheila is already showing remorse for her actions, the Inspector isn't unnecessarily cruel to her, although he is still concrete on the fact that what Sheila did was wrong. With Mrs Birling however, she appears not to regret her conduct or even feel sorrow for the girl's death. The Inspector therefore changes his approach accordingly, asking her short questions and trying to get her to empathise with Eva Smith. When this fails, the Inspector then reveals Eva's deserting lover to be Eric. The shock of this revelation completely destroys Mrs Birling's mental barrier between her and Eva. Although the play is set in 1912, Priestley wrote it in 1945. The Inspector's attitude is that of many of the population in 1940. Most people had been affected by, if not WWI, then WWII and families such as the Birlings would have lost their wealth because of these wars and would need to rely upon their community throughout the bombings and rationing.. In fact, the play probably would not have been such a success if it were released at the time that it is set as the upper class snobbery displayed by the Birlings was very much true to most families before the war. ...read more.


This could be forgivable were it not for how he acts later on. The Inspector shows no human trait, besides appearance, about him, not even sympathy for Sheila and Eric, which I feel, is a key part of the character. The Inspector's exit is worse: He is left sitting in an office with only one door, which Mr Birling is guarding. When Birling realises that girl hasn't died, he bursts in, only to find an empty room and no visible escape route. This means the audience goes away with a sense of closure, happy in the knowledge that the Inspector was some form of inexplicable supernatural being, instead of a feeling of uncertainty that ensures that that person will think about it after the end of the play. In conclusion, the character of the Inspector is the most important of them all, even if the main focus is not on him but on the family. Without the Inspector, the transformation of the family's attitudes would not take place, and this is also true of the sense of mystery created by the Inspector's presence. Without the Inspector, the family would not begin to understand the central message of the play; that in order to survive and prosper, people must work together and help each other, not isolate themselves. By Adam Carter ...read more.

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