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Analysis Of The Inspector In An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley

2038 words - 8 pages

Analysis of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

The word Inspector suggests someone who looks closely at things, and
this is his role in the events of the play. This, and the fact that
Priestly recognised the Birlings would almost certainly have refused
to be questioned by a common policeman, is probably the reason why the
person to bring the news of Eva/Daisy's death is portrayed as an
inspector.

The Inspector is never given one specific identity, but there are some
which would suit his character. The Inspectors name 'Goole' sounds the
same as ghoul- someone with a morbid interest in death or a spirit
which is said to take fresh life from corpses, and it is certainly
arguable that the Inspectors existence is a result of Eva/Daisy's
death. It is there fore possible to see him as a representative of
Eva/Daisy, returned to the Birlings in spirit form to 'haunt' the
consciences of those who have procured her death.

Inspector Goole is also a version of a traditional policeman:
intrusive, commanding, polite but impatient when necessary. The twist
in the situation is that nothing has occurred that would bring any of
the family to a court of justice. His character has been devised in
such a way to fit in with a scenario, a murder. It is because of this
that he has to appear to be an Inspector and not an impersonator. He
also has a moral dimension which distinguishes him from an ordinary
police inspector: he is more concerned with what is right and wrong
than with what is legal. For example, he sternly tells Birling that "
it's better to ask for the earth [ as a worker might do ] than to take
it [ which Birling does ] ".

The Inspector could also be the personification of the social
conscience the other characters all lack or suppress. He often plays
the voice of conscience, his familiarity with what each character has
done goes beyond what any investigator might reasonably be expected to
know. Things that they concealed from eachother- even from themselves-
are brought to surface at the Inspectors insistence. Priestley
intentionally leaves the provenance of the figure of the Inspector
unexplained, his real identity a mystery. This is more effective than
any clarification would have been because to reveal that the Inspector
was, for example, a practical joker ( as the Birlings hope) or that he
was a sort of 'avenging spirit' would ruin the effect the Inspector
has on the audience.

The effect the Inspector has on the audience is as important as the
effect he has on the characters in the play. This is because of what
he represents; the conscience of not only the characters but of also
the audience.

Through the Inspector Priestley presents us, the audience, with a
sincerely felt and powerfully expressed social message. We are shown
the...

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