Analysis of the Character of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestly
The play "An Inspector Calls" is about an inspector who visits the
Birling family, Mr Arthur Birling, Mrs Sybil Birling, Mr Eric Birling,
Miss Sheila Birling and Sheila's fiancÃ© Gerald Croft. This play is set
in 1912, in the Edwardian era.
When the Inspector enters every thing is based on him. None of the
family can go any where or do any thing without his consent.
As soon as the Inspector enters the Birling dining room he stands out
as different because of the way he dresses. He is wearing "a plain
darkish suit," whereas the other men are dressed in evening wear. As
he enters, the lighting changes and this creates a sense of his
importance. His character creates "an impression of massiveness,
solidity and purposefulness." The Inspector is in his fifties and
speaks carefully; he looks hard at the person he addresses before
The Inspector has an unusual manner and asks questions inappropriately
which suggests he isn't a normal police inspector, for example,
"Why... why did you refuse?" This is a strange question from a police
inspector because he is questioning why Mr Birling wouldn't give the
girls a pay rise. Another example would be his reply to Mrs Birling,
"Some of them-yes." This is strange that a police inspector is sure of
his facts as they usually go to find out if the things they know are
facts but this inspector is very sure of himself. Police inspectors
don't usually bother to talk about unfair business they just get on
with what they need to find out.
He has a strange way of conducting his investigations; he only shows
the picture of the girl to the person that he is questioning and does
not give a reason for this. "I thought that it would do all of us a
bit of good if sometimes we tried to put ourselves in the place of
these young women and counting their pennies in their dingy little
back bedrooms." No inspector goes to an investigation and starts
giving his views on society.
"A nice little promising life there, I thought and a nasty mess
somebody's made of it." When he says this he is using a moralizing
tone. As he speaks his opinion becomes clearer. Again a normal
inspector does not express his views in such a way.
Throughout the play he continues this, "It might be less trouble if
you turn in, you might have to turn out again soon." This is giving a
hint to Eric to stay because he is also linked to the suicide. "â€¦ but
the girl died in agony, hating life." He is abrupt and harsh about the
death. This shows his unpleasant side.
In act 2 he continues to use his moralizing tone and inappropriate
questions. For instance, "and you think young women ought to be
protected against unpleasant and disturbing things?" This is strange
because Gerald made it clear...