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Who Is Inspector Goole And What Is His Function In The Play? How May This Function Be Conveyed In Performance?

3239 words - 13 pages

John Boynton Priestley wrote the play, ? An Inspector Calls? in 1941 when the Second World War was being fought. The play involves a supernatural person, who claims to be an Inspector, arriving with the news of a suicide. A young girl has taken her life, due to a series of problems that occurred in her last year or so and everyone in the house at that time is somehow connected with her death, although the audience is unaware of that at first. The involvement of the individual members of the family gradually unfolds until Priestley succeeds in building up a picture of middle-class society as grasping, selfish and almost entirely without any sense of moral responsibility.Inspector Goole enters the play in an ironic way. He comes just after Mr Birling, a hard-working business man says, ?a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own?? Mr Birling isn?t aware of what the Inspector is about to tell him and his family. The Inspector is a figure of inner strength and moral authority. For instance, when he enters the Birlings? living room, Mr Birling offers him a drink and he refuses. The stage directions in the book describe his manner well. For example, as he enters, the directions state; ?The Inspector need not be a big man but he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidarity and purposefulness.? There are also other parts where the directions describe him as, ?cutting in?, ?taking charge?, or speaking ?very sternly?, ?gravely?, or ?harshly?. These directions imply a man who is making judgements on what he regards as the moral lassitude of the Birlings.Inspector Goole has a shrewd technique of saying little while the characters implicate themselves. Sheila says to her mother at one point, ?he?s giving us the rope ? so that we?ll hang ourselves.?His comments are also very critical and could be regarded as beyond the normal line of police questioning. For example, when he has just introduced himself and is getting straight to the point, he describes Eva?s death very thoroughly instead of simply stating there had been a death. He describes it as her being in great agony and the disinfectant ?burning her insides out.? He repeats the fact she died, after several hours of agony, many times in the play, ?A girl died tonight. A pretty, lively sort of girl, who never did anybody any harm. But she died in misery and agony ? hating life ?? ?to try and disturb the characters? consciences.During the play, the Inspector makes many moral judgements of the Birlings. For example, he tells Birling, ?it?s better to ask for the earth than to take it,? when referring to Eva asking Mr Birling for a raise. Mr Birling says, ?I?m a public man-? when he believes the Inspector gets a little offensive and the inspector replies, ?Public men, Mr Birling, have responsibilities as well as privileges.? This statement surprises Mr Birling, as it did when the Inspector showed no interest at the beginning when Mr Birling was trying to impress him with...

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