The inspector in JB Priestly’s Essay
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‘An Inspector Calls’ by JB Priestly is a morality play that deals with responsibility, society, class and family. In this essay I am going to explore the way the playwright creates a function for the inspector, and how it is displayed through, several different techniques. We are told nothing whatsoever about the inspector except form his name. Inspector Goole’s name is weird and sort of resembles a ghost or a spirit. He might have been a spirit, sent on behalf of the dead women, to torment and make the other characters of the play feel guilty.
JB Priestly obviously didn’t want any of the characters to really know who he was. The inspector was very mysterious and a suspicious character. Some of the inspector’s functions include how he moves the story forward. The inspector moves and does things at his own will. When he interrupts, no one does anything, he moves onto each suspect when he likes. Also leaves when he likes. In Act one, the Birling’s family were having a celebration and were all enjoying themselves. However, when the inspector had arrived from nowhere, the atmosphere had dramatically changed.
The atmosphere is now much tense for both the characters and the audience. When the inspector had arrived, he ‘created at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. ‘ That’s how the inspector changed the atmosphere for both the characters and audience and this shows the effect too. This function of the inspector changes everything for the worse, and their evening is destroyed. Inspector: ‘(cutting in) Never mind about that. You can settle that between you afterwards. (to Sheila. ) What happened?
‘ This creates tension especially when he is cutting in, this also indicates that the inspector can interrupt when he likes and is a dominating character when he speaks. The inspector also takes control of the situation all the way throughout the whole play, he is the person that structures the play. This effects the characters and the audience in an important way. It portrays to the characters and audience that the inspector is a person, which is in charge and is very determined in whatever he does.
The inspector represents four main things and they are: responsibility, society, class and family. The way the inspector represents responsibility, is very powerful. For example in the inspectors final speech, he says ‘ We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. ‘ That’s the way the inspector had symbolised responsibility. The inspector felt very strong about responsibility too, he said ‘ And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.
‘ The function of the inspector was to illustrate that we are responsible for each other and our actions. This effects the characters in many ways. This makes Sheila and Eric realise what they have done to the poor girl. This also effects the audience, it makes them also realise about people around them and we all should be responsible for each other. Audiences that were watching the play in 1945, set in 1912 would have been shocked, to see a man strongly representing something that he had believed in.