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'You see, we have to share something - If there's nothing else we'll have to share our guilt.' What were the Inspector's intentions in visiting the Birlings? How successful was he in realising those intentions?

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Introduction

'You see, we have to share something. If there's nothing else we'll have to share our guilt.' What were the Inspector's intentions in visiting the Birlings? How successful was he in realising those intentions? The Inspector's intentions in visiting the Birlings were to promote a socialist idea and to make the Birling family see things from a different perspective. The character of Inspector Goole is mysterious. This air of mystery is intentional. The name Inspector Goole is an obvious pun (Inspector - spectre, Goole - ghoul). We as an audience never find out who this Inspector is. There are many possibilities. Priestley left the character as a mystery so as to have a larger impact on the audience, making them think more about the play, and helping them think more about the messages the play brings. Through the Inspector, the audiences are educated in their social understandings and behaviour, seeing the examples of the Birlings and hearing Inspector Goole's predictions. At the beginning of the play Mr Birling is very self-confident and conceited. He believes, strongly, in a capitalist world: "A man has to make his own way." ...read more.

Middle

From this speech, you can tell that the Inspector was sent to the Birlings to teach them about responsibility. I think what the Inspector is trying to say here is important for all of us. I think Priestley is trying to teach the audience, as well as Mr. Birling, that everything we do changes other people's lives in some way. Every decision we make somehow affects other people's feelings and actions. The last part of the speech is where he talks about the war that is about to break out. Priestley wants to show the upper-class audience that they can't just abuse their position of power to exploit and use those poorer or lower down on the social scale. Priestley believes something must be done, and he doesn't want all the suffering he and countless others went through in the war to be worthless. He wants the social system to change and wants people to be more responsible for their actions. As soon as Mr. Birling finds out that the Inspector is a fake he reverts straight back to his old, unchanged, self. ...read more.

Conclusion

It's just that I can't help thinking about this girl - destroying herself so horribly - and I've been so happy tonight. Oh I wish you hadn't told me." Sheila is the only one who actually understands what the Inspector was trying to say. She is the only one who actually learns something from the whole experience: "Well he inspected us all right. And don't start dodging and pretending now. Between us we drove that girl to commit suicide." She wants everyone to face up to their fears and their guilt and not try to dodge and forget about what they have done. Sheila has changed enormously. She is a lot more mature. When the others are ready to go back to normal, she is about to embark on a new life. I think that her life has completely changed from this one experience. Priestley leaves the play unclosed leaving the audience to think about the play and draw their own conclusions. This is a very good ploy by Priestley as it makes people think about what they saw and hopefully makes them realise that aspects of their life should be changed for the good of humanity. ...read more.

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