My final point on the words of the Inspector, is his final speech, “But just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone… taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good Night.” These are Goole’s final words to complete his “lesson” on responsibility. Although he is currently talking to the characters in the play at this moment, his words emerge like a sermon in a church might and he seems to be in fact addressing the audience as well to convey his message to them.
He uses words like “fire and blood and anguish,” which makes him seem powerful and due to this unique choice of words, it becomes a very memorable speech. It also makes you realise the dramatic irony of this play, as we all know that World War 1 is just about to commence but the characters in the play are completely oblivious to it and Mr. Birling is positive that the war will not take place. In my opinion these final words from him are an example of how he talks to the audience without addressing them directly and it is this that convinces me that the role of Inspector Goole is purely a device used to convey to the audience the importance of community and moral responsibility.Order now
To conclude this, I think that the Inspector’s dramatic function in An Inspector Calls is open to interpretation. For example in the 1954 black and white adaptation, the director has interpreted the Inspector as a being a ghost to frighten the family. This is shown by the sudden appearance of the inspector in the doorway coupled with very eerie music and his disappearance at the end of the play, whereas in the original script the technique used to make his arrival prominent is his name “Goole”. In my opinion, I think that the Inspector is Priestley himself simply using the inspector as a device to convey the message of responsibility to the audience. I also think this has been successfully achieved and is a very gripping and thought-provoking play.
‘An inspector calls’ was written in 1945 by J.B Priestley. The play is set in 1912 and centres on Arthur Birling, a prosperous manufacturer and his family, who are celebrating the engagement of their daughter, when they are suddenly and dramatically interrupted by the arrival of the police inspector. The inspector, investigating the suicide of a young working-class woman, uncovers each of the family’s shameful secrets that link them with the young girl and her death.
Priestley was a strong believer in socialism, opposing capitalism which exploits and degrades the working classes to benefit the rich. Priestley believed that whether we acknowledged it or not, we are all part of one big community and have the responsibility to look after everyone else, no matter who they are or what their status is. In ‘An inspector calls’ Priestley tries to highlight these beliefs and educate the audience on how they should treat one another. This message was particularly effective to the audiences of 1946 as, weary from the Second World War they were looking for change.
The Inspector’s quote of ‘Fire, blood and anguish’ refers to the 1st and 2nd World Wars, would have had great emotional impact on the audience and caused them to think more deeply into the play and Priestley’s message. During the Second World War social classes were forced to mix, children were evacuated to where was safest and not according to class, all young men were forced to mix in the Trenches and on the Front Line, the women left at home were forced to all work in the factories together, all of this causing friendships and relationships between different social classes to be formed. Clothes were rationed, so soon everybody looked the same and social class become harder to distinguish, everyone worked together for the good of the country and social barriers between the classes began to fall.
Written just after the war Priestley gives the audience the chance to go back to their old ways of social classes and boundaries and face another World War or to move forward with this new way of living, where everyone is equal and there are no class barriers. The family have placed themselves in a kind of dolls house, shutting out the rest of the world, shutting out any opposing opinions or any of the terrible things that happen in the ‘real world’ to ‘other people’. The inspector’s visit will be the catalyst that will shatter all of these fake thoughts and feelings, Mr Birling in particular is very guilty of the selfish capitalist opinions which contrast to Priestley’s and later the Inspector’s opinions.
When the inspector calls on the Birling family, they, and Gerald Croft are in the midst of a family celebration, all are dressed in expensive evening wear and having just finished a their meal the men are smoking cigars and all are drinking toasts to themselves, feeling full of self importance, and rather pleased with life. Mr Birling is described as ‘a heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech. He is very much concerned with his social positioning and twice mentions that he was Lord Mayor as a way of impressing Gerald (his future son in-law who is from a family of a higher social class than the Birling’s) and even mentions the his possible future knighthood, to him which is far from certain.
He is solely worried about his family’s reputation. Birling then reveals to the audience his personal views, through one of the many speeches, he makes to his family and then later, to just Gerald and Eric, before the inspector arrives. Birling shows he does not believe he has a responsibility to society, only to his family ‘a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own’. He is short sighted and wrong, his predictions for the future are all incorrect:
‘We’re in for a time of steadily increasing prosperity’ The Wall Street Crash (1929) and the Great Depression within a generation. ‘There isn’t a chance of war’ World war within two years, with a second to follow within the same lifetime. ‘In 1940…you’ll be living in a world that’ll have forgotten all these Capital versus Labour agitations’ The General Strike (1926) and the continued rise of the Trade Union Movement.
The Titanic: ‘unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable’ SS Titanic sinks on her maiden voyage. This dramatic irony at his expense makes the character look even more stupid and thoughtless and encourages the audience to question how many of his other beliefs are correct. It is these incorrect and morally wrong views that trigger the inspector’s arrival. ‘A man has to make his own way- has to look after himself- and his family too, when he has one- and so long as he does that he won’t come to much harm. But the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you’d think everybody has to look after everybody else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive – community and all that nonsense.
But take my word for it, you youngsters – and I’ve learnt in the good hard school of experience- that a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own- and- We hear the sharp ring of a front door bell. BIRLING stops to listen. Mr Birling is interrupted half way through one of his capitalistic, narrow-minded speeches by the ringing of the front door bell, unknown to Mr Birling and the other members of the house, this signals the arrival of the Inspector. His arrival right as Mr Birling is half way through his capitalistic and selfish speech adds dramatic irony to the play, as the Inspectors role is to show that this is not the case and sets out to prove to the Birlings, Gerald and to the audience how wrong this view is. The Inspector’s somber appearance and the news he brings are a contrast with the happy and elegant celebration in the Birling house.