How does Priestley use the character of the inspector in the “Inspector Calls”? The character of the inspector, in Priestley’s play is used to interfere with the social conscience of the upper class characters of the play. He tries to make them realise their faults, greed and self centred natures are no longer acceptable. Mr Birling, a hard-headed no nonsense employer was forced by the inspector to rethink how his views and actions would affect his employee’s existence. From this information I can see that Mr Birling does not believe in human rights which make him snobbish,
“We were paying the usual rates and if they didn’t like these rates, they could go and work somewhere else. It’s a free country”. On the other hand Mrs Birling was warned against her superiority complex when abusing her position as a head if a charity for the unfortunate. Her rejection of Eva’s desperate plea for help from the committee was because she was “giving herself ridiculous airs” and was manipulated by the inspector to show her lack of compassion of caring.Order now
The social conscience of Gerald was cleverly revealed by the inspector when establishing that he had a “kept woman”, Daisy Renton, even without showing him the picture. His private life came into question, “but it was all over and done with”. He didn’t think twice about Sheila and carried on with his evil deeds, (his affair with Daisy Renton (Eva Smith)). The inspector made Gerald realise he is cheating and deceiving himself as well as being two faced towards Sheila. Societies in Priestley’s play were that these actions are unacceptable. “It was you who turned out the girl in the first place”.
The social conscience of the younger ones who were Sheila and Eric were influenced by the inspector, “We often do on the younger ones, they’re more impressionable”, Eric was least influenced character out of the two. He was criticised as though he were a “child”. The inspector hardly confronted Eric because Eric walked into the room “extremely pale and distressed” and recovered from the humiliation himself. He wasn’t pushed into confessing which is what the inspector would normally do. I know this because when he tries to prick someone’s conscience he surmises, “It’s a chain of events”, the inspector hints that he knows and there’s no point of hiding the truth. There was still a confrontational approach that he took on Eric once the inspector knew enough but all turned out for the betterment of Eric because it made him slightly mature in the play and face up to his involvement.
The social conscience of Sheila was tapped into by the inspector easily because Sheila was an essential honest character. This tells me that she acted like an accomplice for the inspector. I know that she was influenced a great deal because she often showed it, “I feel you’re beginning all wrong and I am afraid you will say or do something that’ll soon be sorry for afterwards”, “We all started like that – so confident, so pleased with ourselves until he asked questions”.
Sheila and Eric were most deeply affected by the inspector’s revelations in the play. Persuading the Birlings was a “piece of cake” for the inspector. He used little information and pretended to know more than already does. This was allowed by the Birlings innocent selves as they juggled with their own untruthful lies. Even Mrs Birling, “the hardest nut to crack”, was outplayed and contradicted. Mr Birling was easily convinced but it took some explaining to do, “Yes yes horrid business. But I don’t understand why you should come here, Inspector.” Soon after the capitalistic business man understood his wrongful actions and was treated as a stereotype. He was well aware of this and he would of done anything unrealistic to hide his dreadful history from the public, “I will pay thousands, thousands”.
Sheila was mostly responsible with juggling with the family affairs and for a writer like Priestley who was a socialist writer with political opinions; this would be an ideal character to have in such a specialised play to depict the audience into realising their greed and wrongdoings. Therefore a play, which was a popular entertainment in 1947, would be extremely helpful for passing a message morally. The main message was acted by the inspector later on in this play. Eric was detached from the family problems and conversations in the play. This was probably why he appeared like a different member of the family. The unusual soft approach was affectively used to draw the necessary information out of Eric.