After reading an Inspector calls, I am certain it is obvious to any one who reads it that the inspector is not what he appears to be at all. At first you have no suspicions of the Inspector, but as the play moves on it slowly dawns on you that the Inspector might be an impostor. The inspector also has major impacts on some of the characters. He is “Priestley’s vehicle for his views on social responsibility. He represents social conscience. He has moral dimension.”
The Inspectors name, Goole, has noteworthy significance. Ghoul has the same sound and its meaning has a great bearing on the play. A Ghoul is “an evil spirit” To Birling, and his upper class peers; this is an exact analysis of the Inspector. The thought of the Inspector being something extraordinary seems to be briefly confronted by Sheila but it is dismissed just as quickly. Another theory might be that the Inspector represents truth and is not a real person at all but just a representative of justice. I think that this is a very plausible idea and probably Priestley’s own thought. He could be a spirit representing the future, the Birlings chance of repent, although only Eric and Sheila recognize this.
They are the only ones to realise that they have ruined this girl’s life and it could be their doings that sent her to this horrible end. The Inspector could also be as real as all the other characters in body and can eat and drink and is solid. I think that the inspector may have gone back in time or there might have been a time slip of some sort to make sure that these people new what they had done. I think there is a possibility that the Inspector could be Eva Smith and just goes back to haunt them. This maybe quite far fetched by I would not rule it out completely, because if it were true then it would explain everything.
The main role of the inspector is his forcing role, which he uses to overpower the other characters to admit to their secrets. He appears to the characters to be very rude at times, but this rudeness only adds to the factor at which he can interrogate the characters, and also provokes them admit to their wrongdoings, ‘I know. I had her turned out of a job. I started it.’ Some characters take longer to acknowledge their secrets than others. They try to hide, but cannot escape from the inspector. For example Mr. Birling, a very stubborn man, who, even when he confesses to his concealment, believes that it has nothing to do with the death, and believes that he has nothing to do with it at all.
Other characters like Sheila and Eric admit and don’t try to hide it, and know that they had added to the tragic death of Eva Smith. They know that the inspector is right, and if they hadn’t done what they did, then Eva Smith would still be alive. Sheila in particular is very guilty and gets very emotional. The inspector has trouble with getting them all to admit themselves, ‘Inspector, I’ve told you before, I don’t like your tone’….’I don’t propose to give you much more rope’ however he knows they had something to do with it, and he knew exactly what that was as well. This may have helped him.
The inspector makes his views on social responsibility clear. He believes that we are all responsible for one another and should act together as a community, helping those of us who are less fortunate. Ironically, Mr Birling has the opposite view to the inspector. When the inspector arrives he is discussing business with Gerald and says that he thinks you are responsible for yourself and your family only. Mr Birling is absolutely against the idea of communism. Priestley expresses his views on communism through the inspector demonstrating to the reader how important it is to care for others in your community.
In conclusion I think that the Inspector is as real as every one else in the play but I think that he represents justice or truth and is a form of angel or something along those lines. The play can only be understood after it is closely reviewed. I am sure that there will always be a sense of mystery about this play; who was the inspector? What was the Inspector? Will we ever know? His role in the play is forcing to discover the characters’ terrible secrets and leave them with a lasting impression as well as a lot to think about. Priestley has very strong views on social responsibility which are expressed through the inspector.
Courtney from Study Moose
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