During the first moments of the play, urchins, played by small children, entered from the side of the stage and started lifting up the curtains to signify poverty that the Birling family were shutting out, and how curious they are to see what is happening in the Birling’s lives. In addition, it also indicates how at some stage in the rest of the play, their once concealed lives were about to be exposed to the public.
These urchins also represented the working class, like Eva Smith and how no one took notice or how they could not care less about them because of their low status compared with the high status society, like the Birling family. As soon as the inspector enters the play, the atmosphere completely changes. Harsher lights are displayed to inform the audience of the characteristics of this new character. From the very second he walks in, the inspector grips the audience and the other characters with his cold stare and to the point attitude.
He indicates a nemesis by his low and monotonous voice and by staying outside all through the play. His presence in the play represents a collective conscience of the family because they had all at least committed one of the seven deadly sins of; pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger and sloth. He did this by showing them a photo of a girl that has just committed suicide that they have caused and so he makes them feel guilty by wanting to prove that even at their standard they can too be morally wrong and responsible for doing something ruthless.
I thought it was very clever the pun of the inspectors surname. ‘Goole’ could be linked with either fool or ghoul. Fool to show that the Birlings and Gerald Croft were fools because when the inspector made his speech, it left the Birlings and Croft subdued and wondering exactly what the it really meant. And ghoul because the inspector him self was actually one, he wanted to, in a way, scare the family to make them feel guilty about what they had done. Daldry used the set of the play to put across the important message of JB Priestly that there should be more equality and we should not take our lifestyles for granted.
We also should take responsibility for our actions or we could end up in an awful situation, just as the Birlings and Gerald did when they received the phone call at the end to say an inspector was on his way round. In the anti – socialist speech, at the beginning of the play, Mr Birling said, “Every man should look after himself” but in the inspector’s last speech, he brought the new message to the attention of the audience that, “We are members of one body, we are responsible for each other”, and I think that it sums up exactly what Priestly was trying to get across to the audience.