Inspector Goole plays a very important role in the play. It is through him that we understand the point J. B Priestly is trying to make. For this piece of coursework I have been studying the book and play ‘an inspector calls’. It was written in 1944 be J. B Priestly. Throughout the book I have concentrated on the ways in which Priestly makes his views known to the audience and how he does it. After reading the play through I read the brief autobiography of Priestly at the beginning of the book.
Many of Presley’s views on socialism would have been conceived at a young age as is farther was also a socialist and Priestly would often join in a debate. In a time of poverty and shortcoming, an Inspector calls delivers an important message to society. It is a message of mutual responsibility and shows how everyone has a role to play in society, and that we should do as much as we can to help others, because we never know what affect on their lives our actions will have. Priestly is trying to teach the audience to look after one another, and to have a social conscious.Order now
In this play he is giving society the chance with hindsight, to look back on what had transpired and to learn from this. The inspector has arrived at the Birling’s house to tell them that each member of the family has a part to play in the premature death of Eva Smith. During the play Presley’s socialist message is delivered through the mouth of the inspector, who takes on the role of the teacher to the Birling family. He hopes to teach them moral value and respect for everyone, no matter how poor. The play is set in Brumley, an industrial city in the midland in 1912.
Between 1912 when the play was set and 1945 when it was written the world experienced World Wars, unrest, Depression, the atomic bomb, fascism and the Holocaust. Dramatic irony is used well in this play with Mr. BirlingÂ´s illusions of the war and the Titanic, we can see these in act one pages 7 and 9: “Germans don’t want war. Nobody wants war except some half-civilized folks in the Balkans. And why? There’s too much at stake these days. Everything to loose and nothing to gain by war” “The Titanic she sails next week-forty six thousand tons-New York in five days, every luxury-and unsinkable”
The play was set before the war but published after, so the audience would know that Mr. Birling is completely wrong about the war and the Titanic. This would cause amusement and also show Mr. Birling to be the fool, as Priestly intended. Author Birling is rather pompous, only his opinion matters, he always knows best. But as the audience know he isn’t always correct. The inspector controls the development of events: who will speak and when; who may or may not leave; who will or will not see the photograph.
Priestly describes the Inspector, when he first appears on stage, in terms of “massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’; symbolizing the fact that he is an unstoppable force within the play. His “disturbing habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before speaking’ gives the impression that he sees through surface appearances to the real person beneath. It also gives him a thoughtfulness that contrasts with the thoughtlessness of each character”s treatment of the girl. His role in the play is not simply to confront each character with the truth, but to force each character to admit the truth they already know.
He works methodically through the characters present one at a time, partly because he recognizes that “otherwise, there”s a muddle”, and partly because, given the chance, the characters are all quick to defend each other, or to call upon outside help in order to avoid accepting the truth of what he suggests. The Inspector has a moral dimension, which makes him different from an ordinary policeman: he is more concerned with right and wrong than with what is legal. He sternly tells Birling, for example, that “it”s better to ask for the earth than to take it ”.
But he also tells the characters that “if you”re easy with me, I”m easy with you” – he has compassion for those who are willing to accept their responsibility, but nothing so simple as forgiveness. After all, “the girl”s dead though”. Each character is punished in an appropriate way. Birling fears for his family”s reputation at the inquest; Sheila feels shame for her selfishness; Gerald has his affair revealed in front of Sheila; Mrs Birling has her illusions about the respectability of her family shattered by Eric; and Eric is revealed before his indulgent parents as a spoilt and inadequate young man.
But notice how in each case the punishment is a consequence of their own behaviour; the Inspector himself does not bring punishment from outside. Perhaps this is why they are given a second chance at the end of the play. Priestly wanted the Inspector to appear to be intimidating. `He wasn’t a big man but he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’. Omniscient and omnipotent the mysterious Inspector Goole persuades the Birling’s to confess to their crimes. Even his name has ghostly connotations; he seems to know everything he is in control. It’s almost as though he knows the future.
Inspector Goole’s dress sets him apart from the Birling’s. They are dressed to impress. `All five are in evening dress of the period, the men in tails and white ties, not dinner jackets’. The women wear long formal dresses. The Inspector by contrast is dressed in a `plain darkish suit of the period’. He is dressed smartly but he is not concerned with status and appearance. The Inspectors final speech was that `we are all members of one body; we are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire, blood and anguish’.
The Inspector represents the voice of Priestly. He believes in community and if we don’t work together then disaster is inevitable. Presley’s main aim in the play was to show what would happen if we didn’t work together as a community. The play is there to highlight the problems of class divide; he wanted his audiences to learn something from his plays. If a ‘normal’ inspector where to carry out the same investigation he would be very careful and respectful, as he would know that Mr Birling was an ex-major and would know many important people.
During the play Mr Birling tries to bully the inspector by saying he is a good friend with the chief constable. The inspector does not back away but peruse further think Mr Birling might have something to hide, where a ‘normal’ inspector might back away. Eva smith represents the ‘average’ person, a standard working class individual. Priestly says that although “one Eva Smith has gone there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us” and “their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwine with the upper-class peoples lives”.
The surname Smith is and has been the most common English surname for many years. This adds impact and makes the audience realise how regular they are and how they are gone unnoticed to society. The Inspectors final speech was that `we are all members of one body; we are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire, blood and anguish’. The Inspector represents the voice of Priestly. He believes in community and if we don’t work together then disaster is inevitable.
Presley’s main aim in the play was to show what would happen if we didn’t work together as a community. The play is there to highlight the problems of class divide; he wanted his audiences to learn something from his plays. When it turns out that everything could be a hoax. Birling pretends nothing has happened. He hasn’t learnt a lesson at all, he thinks if he pretends life is the same and that everything is normal no one will notice anything is wrong. His beliefs have not changed even after that has happened. The moral of `An Inspector Calls’ is that no matter what class we are we are all equal and that we must work together.
Priestly wanted to get this moral across, I think he did, but unfortunately their will always be people like the Birlings. I think the speech would have been performed as so: very serious and with a commanding tone, spoken slowly and carefully so the audience would get the full, dramatic impact. This way Presley’s aim would come across in a good way. The Inspector’s speech would have provoked much discussion amongst the audience because of the powerful language used and because he left the scene directly after speaking.
The audience may discuss between themselves whether or not they agree with the Inspectors speech. If they already do they probably feel quite pleased with themselves and if not they might feel guilty and ashamed. She can be seen as a heartless and wicked person in some respects, especially the way that she receives the news about Eva Smith”s suicide. She dismisses the news, not able to see how the death of a lower class person could be of any interest to, or connected to, the Birlings.
Sybil seems to think that these lower class people have different feelings to her own, that they are less human than she is. She sees Eva”s pleas as being evidence of “giving herself ridiculous airs” and of “claiming elaborate fine feelings” that are restricted to people of Sybil”s own social standing. Presley’s ideas are not recognized by the Birlings, which are shown by the fact that they are ideas introduced to their lives by an unknown stranger who walks in from the street. With him the stranger brings social awareness, which is readily accepted by the younger two members of the family.
However, when made aware of the fact that no girl died and there was no such man as Inspector Goole, the older people immediately turn to discussing the best way to make sure that no one finds out about the “joke” played on them by the non-existent inspector. I don’t think that it does matter that the inspector wasn’t ‘real’. The most important thing is that even though the family realise that he was an impostor, the younger generation Eric and Shelia have realised their part to play in the death of Eva Smith and have taken their responsibility, and are going to try and change the way in which they treat people from now on. And I say the girl’s dead and we all helped to kill her- and that’s what matters. ” Eric Act 3 The older people immediately turn to discussing the best way to make sure that no one finds out about the “joke” played on them by the non-existent inspector. “Look at the pair of them- the famous younger generation who know it all. And they can’t even take a joke. ” Mr. Birling Act 3 Eric and Sheila, however, do not consider the best way to cover up, but the fact that, even though the inspector’s story had not been true, she had done what she had done to someone and she couldn’t alter it now.
This shows that she really has learnt her lesson and that the inspector had done his job. Conclusion Throughout the play I have learnt a lot about the Birlings, their good qualities and their weaknesses. I think Presley’s message of the play his aim was to explain to us that if we are like the BirlingÂ´s then we need to change, and be more considerate and caring towards others, “We are members of one body, we are responsible for each other” This is the sentence taken from the inspector’s last speech and I think that it sums up exactly what Priestly was trying to get across.
Priestly may have experienced difficulties during wartime; this may have led him to believe that in order to live in a peaceful world man must consider his responsibility to fellow men. I think that this play would have made an impact on its audience; the message was very poignant considering the country had just suffered a Second World War. The Inspectors final speech was that `we are all members of one body; we are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire, blood and anguish’.
The Inspector represents the voice of Priestly. He believes in community and if we don’t work together then disaster is inevitable. Presley’s main aim in the play was to show what would happen if we didn’t work together as a community. The play is there to highlight the problems of class divide; he wanted his audiences to learn something from his plays. The moral of `An Inspector Calls’ is that no matter what class we are we are all equal and that we must work together. Priestly wanted to get this moral across, I think he did, but unfortunately there will always be people like the Birling’s.
Through the inspector acting as our conscience we are made aware that there are those in higher positions in society who have power yet abuse it. They take advantage of those weaker then themselves. Eva Smith was a working class girl trying to make a living. Through those in power she was used terribly, then when she was no longer of any use she was rid of. JB Priestly wanted to show that this would continue to happen if society does not learn from these mistakes made. Priestly has shown us how the middle class people act in society and the way in which they regard lower citizens.
He hopes we will realise how the younger generations are the ones who can change the society in which we live. He shows this when Mr and Mrs Birling learn nothing from their mistakes while Eric and Sheila learn from their mistakes. The inspector brings the play to a close, summarising Priestly message when he says we don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other exactly the opposite to what we are told to believe by Mr Birling, that everybody should look after himself or herself. Priestly conveyed his message well, showing us how the situation can be changed and who to depend on to change it.