Length: 2561 words (7.3 double-spaced pages)
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Analyse the character of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley.
* Role in the play
* Effect on the other characters
* Stage presence
When the Inspector first knocks on the front door, it is dramatic
irony because Arthur just said a matter of seconds before of how he
‘might get a knighthood if we don’t get into any sort of trouble’.
This is a very significant time of entering, similar to knocking over
a tower of Jenga – everything one has hoped for has just evaporated
into thin air. As an ...view middle of the document...
The reason the
Police Inspector arrived here at the Birling household was to
investigate a suicide. He seemed to already know everything that the
family told him of the questions he was asking. It was as though he
had been watching them for the past 10 or so years and knew everything
that had gone on. It appears innocent, just routine innocuous
On one level, J.B. Priestley is using the Inspector’s character to
solve what seems to be a police inquiry, investigating a suicide. On a
deeper level, Priestley is using the Inspector to help the family see
where they can take greater responsibility in society; he is helping
them see their mistakes and helping them to learn from their errors
and change their way of thinking.
Inspector Goole does not look like a normal inspector; he is not
particularly well dressed, he doesn’t look important, therefore does
not appear a threat to Mr. Birling obtaining a knighthood. He is
serious and very much in control of the situation, for example, when
Mr. Birling wants Sheila to go out of the room the Inspector demands
softly, “No, wait a minute, Miss Birling”. He gets what he wants
without a lot of trouble. The Inspector in this instance ignores Mr.
Birling’s objections and Sheila stays. Another example of his overall
control is when he stops Eric going to bed;
Eric – I think I’d better turn in.
Inspector – And I think you’d better stay here.
The Inspector reveals information when he is ready – not one second
before, not one second later. He speaks with great strength, and has a
massive amount of authority. He is very crafty and is an excellent
deceiver in the way he talks. Inspector Goole questions them over and
over again until eventually they confess their actions. He uses
emotive language to gain the family’s attention and to make them feel
very guilty, he says, “She died in misery and agony – hating life”.
This in the end makes them confess and telling the truth of what they
did and how it related to Eva Smith’s death. What wasn’t found out
until the end of the play was the fact that not all of the family had
seen the same photograph of Eva Smith:
“Birling- Gerald’s dead right. He could have used a different
photograph each time and we’d be none the wiser.”
The Inspector said:
“One Eva Smith has gone – but there are millions and millions of Eva
Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their
hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all
intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do.”
This speech is basically the moral of the play –the outcome of our
actions are so important. They can make the world a better place or
they can destroy and cause damage to the people and environment around
To sum up the role of the inspector, you need to look at what he
represents. This could change the interpretation of the whole play, An