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What Is the Role of the Insppector in an Inspector Calls?

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Essay title: What Is the Role of the Insppector in an Inspector Calls?

What is the role and function of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls?

An Inspector Calls is a play with lots of political messages as well as social messages. J. B. Priestley believed in socialism and he used large amounts of his plays to try and convince people to his way of thinking. It was written in a time when Britain was ruled by a Labour government and socialist policies were seen to be a good way to go. It was a common way of thinking at that time so Priestley's aim for the play was to influence the unconvinced in society.

The Inspector, straight form his introduction, is commanding and authoritative. Upon his entrance he creates, “…at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.”(PG.11) The Inspector continues to create this impression as he progresses through his speeches and through his interrogation of the family. The Inspector remains confident, sturdy and composed, while people around him crumble and fall to pieces. His �solidity’ is proven by the fact he remains on task despite numerous attempts from Birling to digress from the points he is making. The Inspector is told to appear �purposeful’; this is shown where he explains to Birling that Birlings way of thinking “Every man must only look out for himself,” is not the case, and all warps of society are interlinked. The view is best illustrated in the Inspectors final speech, where he says, “We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.”(p.56). This idea is one that Priestley, himself believed in deeply, and many of Priestleys writing shared this very theme.

The history of the time the play was written helps us to understand the views and the feelings expressed by Priestley in the play. The inspector transfers Priestley’s views and he shows the difference in social classes at the time. A gap which he wants to diminish. He illustrates the reason for this in the play, via the inspector, where he outlines the ways each of the Birlings have influenced someone from a completely different background and social class. This is the way Priestley viewed pre-war England.

Continuing from The Inspector showing Birling the error of his ways, The Inspector is the one and only person who makes things happen and keeps his and the overall story moving. Without the Inspector it is virtually assured that none of the secrets that were exposed would ever have come to light without the gentle nudges from the Inspector which knotted the storyline together. However the Inspector never explicitly accused anyone of any mishap, instead it is the characters whom, themselves fill in the missing gaps in the Inspectors story. For example this is illustrated when, on page 55, the Inspector and Eric discuss who it was who killed Eva Smith. To start with Eric assumes that he killed her because of the situations with the baby, but it is then suggested by the Inspector that is was infact Mrs. Birling who influenced the death of Eva Smith. This is closely related to Dunne’s theory, which states that you can look back into the past to see how your actions lead to a situation and you can look into the future to see how this will affect people in times to come. Mrs Birling looked back into the past to see how her actions affected the life of a young lady and she subsequently saw that she had been responsible for shaping the life of that young lady, that is the link to Dunne’s theory.

The Inspector because of his massiveness, purpose and solidity, manages to not only outline to the characters the wrongs which they have done but he also manages to connect the actions. This leads to him being more solid because not only does he have a few accusations but he can fit them into a connecting storyline in which every member of the family has a part and so no-one can escape the �truth’. The series of events builds up to the final part of Eva Smiths life where she commits suicide as she feels there is no hope left for her. Ouspensky’s theory links closely to the story of this play. As you develop through the story you begin to see that actions which didn’t appear to be too major are infact extremely important and potential catastrophic to others. Ouspensky believed you would keep reliving your lives identically except for the main events and you would continue to live your life over and over until you were able to make significant improvements to the life you lived and you managed to iron out all major mistakes and problems you had.

Further to this, the Inspector is also there to persuade the audience that the pursuit of power and riches are destructive. In this way Inspector Goole is Priestley’s mouthpiece. Priestly had very Socialist views on the world,

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