An Inspector calls

What Is The Function Of The Inspector In 'An Inspector Calls'?

'An Inspector Calls' was written by JB Priestley in 1945. It begins as a classic detective thriller, but it later unfolds to become as a conventional morality play. "An Inspector Calls" is set in the imaginary North Midlands industrial town of Brumley, where it was set before the First World War began in 1912.

Inspector Goole is a symbolic character who has many functions. Primarily, he is introduced to the play to interrogate the Birling Family and Gerald Croft, but Priestley also uses him to move the plot forward and as a device for the writer to voice his opinion's; furthermore he controls movement on stage, encourage the characters and audience to learn from their mistakes and to create moments of tension and mystery.

The Inspector makes the characters confess their actions and reveal what he seems to already know for example, at the end of Act One, when Gerald is discussing to Shelia about the time he spent with Daisy Renton last summer. He already knows that Gerald has something to reveal and that it is just a matter of time: The door opens and the Inspector walks in looking steadily and searchingly at them. Inspector - 'Well?'

He uses brilliant techniques of giving a small part of the next bit of the story and watching how the Birlings and Gerald react to it. This is used to vast outcome, when he mentions the name Daisy Renton, Gerald suddenly - 'what?'. The Inspector responds immediately to Gerald's reaction also now knowing that Gerald had known her and that he may be hiding something from the Inspector.

Nonetheless, eventually, the Birling family begin to see what the Inspector is doing to them. For instance at the end of Act Two, Shelia says 'He's giving us the rope so that we'll hang ourselves.'. This is like the beginning when they start to realise that they all might have something to do with Eva Smith's death and the Inspector is coming to each one of them with all the knowledge he needs and is coming down harsh on them, this is because the Inspector wants to see that the family feel remorse for their actions. At this moment in time Sheila is seeing this interrogation clearly as she says 'somehow he makes you'. She evidently see's that the Inspector is 'knocking' down a wall between themselves and what they are hiding away from the Inspector. This is because he originally came into their household knowing most of the information and each characters role in Eva Smith's suicide. In addition to this the Birling family are revealing most of the truth behind their stories towards the Inspector whilst he has just given them a very little part of any information.

The Inspector also controls speech and movement on stage, for example he controls the speech as he is making them confess their connection to the death of Eva Smith but he also controls movement, for example at the start of Act Three:

Eric - 'Could I have a drink first?'

The Inspector very affirmatively says 'Yes! I know - he's your son and this is your house but look at him. He needs a drink now just to see him through'. Therefore Mr Birling is literally forced to say 'go on then' to Eric as he is being 'bossed' by Inspector Goole. It seems as if he has the superior power, and the power of authority is clearly being imposed here.

Conveniently there are many other occasions where similar actions occur in the play. At the end of Act Two, the Inspector manages to get Mrs Birling to say that whoever got the Eva Smith pregnant should be punished severely. By telling her the story in an extremely inflated and in a very emotional manner she then feels great remorse as her and the family find out that it was Eric who got her pregnant. This also creates irony and tension, because it patronises her as it means that it all lead up to her denying helping her when she came asked for help when she needed it the most which then lead to the build up to the death of her grandchild to be which she is extremely sad about the most.

One of the Inspector's other function worked to great effect as it impacted in Mr Birling's mind being changed. At the beginning of the play he said that if Eva Smith wasn't sacked from his works people like her including herself may end up 'asking for the world'. Then later on in the play he says 'I'd give thousands'. He is directing this towards helping her out knowing that now she is dead and it all started off because he sacked her from his works.

The Inspector creates moments of tension in the play, such as when he pauses and says 'well'. He slows down his speech in order for the person to speak up their point, he does this cleverly in order to let them own up for what they have done. At this moment, the audience would be on the edge of their seat and because they are continuous and for example in act one it ends in such way with the word 'well' this is just the perfect spot for creating a cliff-hanger and J.B Priestly has demonstrated this clearly.

Mrs Birling - 'I don't know anything about this girl'.

The Inspector gravely 'well, we'll see, Mrs Birling'. This then gives them a chance to own up before Inspector Goole as to act upon it himself. However short a sentence may be it still gives the audience a clue of what is to come next.

Inspector Goole acts as a say for Priestley's moral story and this is revealed in the Inspectors' concluding dialogue. He teaches that everyone is linked and we should all co-operate in order to make the world a better place.

This is when is speech begins; 'One Eva Smith has gone but there are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us'. This shows a contrast to the audience for a good outlook for the future. 'with their lives, hopes and fears'. It is a memorable phrase which will make the dialogue stand out. Continuing his final dialogue 'all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and say and do'. It shows more memorable phrasing which then leads onto a positive impact on the readers as we will be more engaged. Also at the end of the sentence, there is list of threes. This may stick into the readers mind and their influences about socialism. 'We do not live alone; we are members of one body, we are responsible for each other'. Here again, he is mentioning things in threes and using we so that the audience feel part of what the Inspector is talking about.

'If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good Night'. This sentence introduces the use of the first person singular to make the audience feel the speaker is talking straight forward and being serious. Also, some of the phrases are unforgettable, such as 'fire and blood and anguish'. They could be thought of as a prophecy of the two World Wars still to come as Priestley wrote this play to make a political point in his ending dialogue. Furthermore, this makes the play more inexplicable if the Inspector is thought of as a 'time traveller'. He then finishes with 'Good Night' wrapping everything up.

To add to Priestley's voice in the play, the character of Mr Birling is put forward as a slave to Capitalism and the Inspector is seen to struggle with him all the way making him see like more and more of a negative influence. This greatly helps to change the audiences' views on politics and give them a different perspective such as what is currently happening on the planet we are currently living in? The wars and such things.

In my opinion Inspector Goole makes this speech, not necessarily towards the characters on stage, but to the audience. It can somewhat be an enthralling dialogue as it is very well constructed and it persuades people to learn from their mistakes and act upon them. Priestley has done a great job of putting his views across; most of them are very important points that are usually overlooked in our everyday lives.

I think the Inspector is very successful in putting Priestley's point across and that he captures the audiences' attention really well with his gripping speech. The Inspector is the creator of all of the drama, tension, intrigue and mystery in which this play has to offer and he used it incredibly well to capture the audience's attention. I think that Priestley, as done well as using him as the main character in terms of development in the storyline. The whole play comes to conclusion with one meaning which Priestly has demonstrated very well which can also be seen as a moral to the play, which is that everybody's actions affect everyone else and no one should be selfish as it could influence someone's life greatly in a chain of events.

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