Role Of The Inspector In Priestley's An Inspector Calls

1024 words - 4 pages

Examine the role of Inspector Goole in the play “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestley.

“An inspector calls” by J.B. Priestley is a fairly unusual Murder-Mystery play as it does not have a single murderer, but a group that contributed to a young woman’s suicide. This peculiarity also continues in that all of those accused are totally unaware of their involvement until they are forced to work it out for themselves, with a little help from the Inspector.
Inspector Goole, in the play “An Inspector Calls”, plays a very important role in the message the play gives. Set in 1912, a time of great confidence in the future of the country, but written in 1945, the play shows Priestley’s views of the world in 1945, but projects them, via the Inspector, onto the Birlings. A family who are very much set in their upper class, capitalist views.
Birling’s views are that of many a “hard-headed businessman” of the time, with them predicting only success and happiness with no war on the horizon, which clearly, given the events of the next six years, is a misguided view. Birling even says that the possibility of war is “Silly little war scares”, along with talking about the Titanic being about to sail and that it is “unsinkable”, with these little statements being rather comedic for the audience, as the apparent stupidity of Birling is unbelievable for the audience who know of the future events.
This idiocy from Birling means that from the arrival of the inspector, the audience of the play begin to like Goole more, as he gives a 1945 view of the time, almost as if he is predicting the future, giving him an air of intelligence, formidability and also common ground with the audience as many would share his ideas. In fact, it is very likely that the views given by the Inspector are those of Priestley himself. Priestley was very patriotic and a socialist, who believed that the class system was unfair and that a social change was necessary in order to benefit the poor.
The Inspector also follows these views, which crop up every so often in the play, for example in his final speech where he says that “there are millions... of Eva Smiths and John Smiths... with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives... We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.... the time will come soon when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.” It is shown quite clearly that the dead woman, Eva Smith, was lower class and that Mr and Mrs Birling did not believe that her death mattered or had anything to do with them. Also the views of responsibility for what happens in society, and that all of society contributes to every event are voiced by the inspector, and to a lesser degree later in the play, Sheila and Eric. Mr and Mrs Birling, however, only have their...

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