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Dramatic Functions Of Inspector Goole In An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley

1781 words - 7 pages

Dramatic Functions of Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

In the play An Inspector Calls, a message is being portrayed to the
reader by J. B Priestley and in my opinion, the main bearer of this
message is the inspector. Being of an ambiguous nature, he appears to
live in a different world to the family with whom he deals; the
Birlings and it is his dramatic function in the play that I shall be
analysing.

Firstly, we have the Stage Instructions to consider. Throughout the
play, there is no mention of Inspector Goole's physical appearance
except in the first set of stage instructions when he enters the
Birlings' house. He is said to "need not be a big man but he creates
at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness." As
for his age, he is "a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish
suit of the period." There is no mention of any distinctive features
to define him so already, an air of mystery has been created about
this so-called inspector. For me, his "massiveness, solidity and
purposefulness" and his name "Goole" build up a feeling of fear and
this first set of instructions lead me to believe that he could be in
the form of a ghost returning to teach the Birlings a lesson about
responsibility.

An additional example of this, is when Inspector Goole is talking to
Mr. and Mrs. Birling (and occasionally Gerald) Priestley has added in
instructions so that Goole speaks to them "savagely" and "severely",
which indicates he has less patience and is not as forgiving with them
as he is with the children, Eric and Sheila. I think this shows the
possibility of Inspector Goole taking on the role of Priestley himself
because the point of this drama is to portray a certain message. To be
able to portray this message he has to make everyone accept their
responsibilities which is more difficult with the older generation,
therefore Goole begins to lose his patience with them.

Another important issue is the way in which Priestley has structured
the play. As Inspector Goole is questioning the members of the
household, Priestley has made sure it is obvious that there is a
certain order in which they must questioned. When Gerald asks to see
the picture the inspector says, "hold on, your time will come" and
"one line of inquiry at a time" This shows he has already planned out
whom he will speak to first and last and what information he will
have. Due to the fact he already knows that each of them holds a key
to Eva Smith's death, it is likely he could be a time traveller
travelling back in time to punish the Birlings and make them realize
the consequences of their actions.

The dialogue from the other characters also helps us to comprehend the
role of Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls. I especially think this
is achieved by Mrs. Birlings...

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