The Inspector's Role As A Dramatic Device in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley
'An Inspector Calls' begins with the Birlings and Gerald Croft
celebrating when they are interrupted by a call from an Inspector. The
Inspector tells them about a girl who has committed suicide earlier on
that evening. In turn, he questions the Birlings and Gerald for
playing a part in her death. After the Inspector leaves the Birlings
find out he was not a real Inspector and receive a phone call about a
young girl who has just died.
The Inspector's identity is never found out in the play. I think
Priestly has left his identity open because it is not his identity
that matter but his views, which is what Priestly was trying to get
across to the audience of that time. Priestley also never revealed the
identity of the Inspector because it was his role as a dramatic device
which was most important.
The Inspectors role as a dramatic device consisted of three things: to
create moments of dramatic tension, to present Priestley's central
views and to move the story forward.
Tension can be created from physical appearance, mystery and suspense.
The Inspector uses all three of these to create tension. When he first
enters the Birling's dining room, he creates tension from his physical
appearance because he is described to create an 'impression of
massiveness' and have a habit of 'looking hard at the person he is
addressing before actually speaking'. This description of the
Inspector creates tension because his appearance seems very formal
compared to the one of the dining room which was very smug and joyous,
therefore there is tension because he has changed the mood.
He also creates tension from mystery. Not showing Eva Smith's
photograph creates mystery because the audience never know if the same
photo is being shown. Not knowing the Inspector's identity also
The Inspector also uses suspense to create tension. For example, at
the end of Act 1 he ends with the word 'Well' and at the beginning of
Act 2, he is said to 'remain at the door for a few seconds looking at
Sheila and Gerald'. This creates suspense within the audience and
keeps them guessing about what will happen next.
The Inspector also presents Priestley's central views. Priestley was a
socialist, other wise know as a 'cranks' which is what Mr Birling saw
the Inspector as. Priestley believed in equal rights and unity between
people. Because the rich people were the ones making the Laws,
Priestley believed that the rich would stay rich and the poor would
stay poor because they had no one representing them. He wrote this
play to get across his views through the Inspector to the rich people
of that time as it would be them who could afford to see the play.
The Inspector also shows Priestley's views in the speech he...