Consider the dramatic significance of Inspector Goole in “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestly, comment on how you would direct an actor playing this role by examining closely one scene of your choice and relating your comments to the play as a whole. In the play “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestly the dramatic significance of a character called Inspector Goole is shown in many ways. In this assignment I will be considering the dramatic significance of the Inspector and I will also be directing an actor playing this role in the first scene.
Inspector Goole is the main character in this play who is investigating into the death of a young girl named Eva Smith. She had committed suicide by drinking some disinfectant. The Inspector mysteriously arrives at a middle class family’s house; the Birlings to question them regarding the case. The family include Mr and Mrs Birling, their children; Eric and Sheila and Sheila’s fiancï¿½ called Gerald. He interrogates all of them and under the pressure they are put under, the truth comes out revealing that each of them has a shameful secret which links them with her death.
At the start of the play the atmosphere is very calm. This is due to the fact that the family are celebrating a special occasion. They are celebrating Sheila’s engagement to Gerald. Everyone is carefree, enjoying some port and chatting away to each other around the dining table. The lighting is “pink and intimate.” This creates a calming feeling. Everything seems normal and nothing is out of the ordinary. It is this though that makes the audience nervous because they are constantly waiting for something dramatic to happen.
Since everything is normal it is surprising when the doorbell rings as the family is not expecting anyone one and even more dramatic when Edna the maid enters and says “Please sir, an Inspectors called.” The time that the Inspector comes in the play is quite significant. This is because he is the main character and he is not even shown until 10 or 15 minutes into the play. For them 10 or 15 minutes tension keeps building up because everyone is waiting for the main character to arrive.
Before Mr. Birling got married he was in a lower social class than his wife. Now the Birlings are in the middle class and are well off. Mrs. Birling accepts the upper class where as Mr. Birling aspires to be a member of the upper class. To Mr. Birling two things are very important; his social status and his business. Gerald Croft and his family are in the upper class. Therefore it is no wonder that the birling family are so enthusiastic about the engagement because it means that they will be moving to a higher class.
Another reason why Mr. Birling is so excited is because “Crofts Limited” and his business are rivals. If the marriage goes ahead then the rivalry will be destroyed “Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together …” Sheila’s engagement to Gerald has both social and economical advantages. It is probably a political marriage but at the start Sheila fails to see this and has her heads in the clouds thinking only about the prospects of love and marriage “Oh Gerald…” It is not only Sheila that is happy but every one at that point in the play has a positive attitude towards life. However by the end most of their attitudes change dramatically as a result of that evenings events.
The Inspector is inferior in class to the Birlings and Gerald. The lower class were usually very worried what the upper class thought of them and whether they were good enough or not. This was not the case for Inspector Goole. In fact it was quite the opposite. He speaks to them normally and not as if though they are superior to him. At first he even speaks to them politely “Thank you Sir.” However as the play progresses he starts to get a bit impatient as the family are not giving him direct answers and shows them no respect showing he is not scared of them.
Mr. Birling gets offended because this behaviour is not expected from a professional Inspector and he says “I don’t like that tone.” This shows that the Inspector does think a great deal for the upper class. When Inspector Goole mentions Eva Smith nobody but Mr. Birling recognizes the name. So the Inspector explains that she was employed at his works at one time. Straight away Mr. Birling starts to look down on her because she was in the working class. Inspector Goole talks about Eva Smith as though she was an important person and not in the working class. This shows that he thinks everyone is equal and there is not a social divide.