In what way does the inspector make you aware of his attitude towards other characters in the play? And how does Priestly use him as a dramatic device? Priestley was born in Bradford, 13th September, 1894. He became a successful playwright through much experience he gained before World War One. A major influence which encouraged Priestley with his plays began when he found himself surrounded by people who read a great deal, however there were no professional writers among these people.
Not only that but Priestley found himself growing up most importantly into his father’s circle of ‘socialist’ friends in which he found himself in positive debates about society Being a socialist, Priestley added this to the many themes of ‘An Inspector Calls’; to show the audience his values as a socialist, that life is to do with caring for each other and there should be equality no matter what you status is in society; Priestley exploits these problems of community throughout his play.
Socialism is not apparent in Edwardian society where there is an evident class divide which results in poor living for those ‘lower classes’ such as Eva Smith due to selfish, ignorant, bigheaded, snobbish characters like the Birling family who are capitalists only care about money and profit these are the total opposites to the socialist morals that Priestley believes everyone should have as Birling says, ‘a man has to make his own way – has to look after himself’ this is the total opposite to the caring and looking after each other morals of Priestley.
The characters are living stereotypes that all fit into the characteristics of the seven deadly sins and are not aware of the consequences of their inexcusable behaviour. Like Shakespeare, Priestley is a very influential educator through his plays. He draws the reader in and makes them experience certain emotions such as anger, irritation and mystery to read on as the Inspector says, ‘She wanted to end her life. She felt she couldn’t go on any longer’, the audience feels a sense of the suffering that Eva endured as if we are a part of the play.
In this aspect Priestley is also an excellent entertainer for example, with the introduction of Inspector Goole who has an eerie and almost unnatural energy creates suspense and awkwardness which makes the audience more intrigued of what is going to come next in the build up of the play. Priestly creates a dramatic atmosphere here by using the Inspector as a dramatic device. Not only is ‘An Inspector Calls’ partly a detective story with the Inspector trying to reveal the unsolved issue of how Eva Smith died, ‘he inspected us alright’.
Here Sheila clearly states that although Inspector Goole already knew what the Birling family’s response would be to his question he still carries out enquiries of the murder although he was more interested in finding out about their morals than the suicide. The play can be classed as a detective story with such a predictable story line; the Inspector generally has some pleasing eccentricities or striking characteristics. Also many detectives’ stories end with unresolved problems.
The Inspector creates a tense mood through his authoritative investigative skills through to the silent exit whilst the Birlings are left astonished, ‘He walks straight out, leaving them staring, subdued and wondering. SHEILA is still quietly crying. MRS BIRLING has collapsed into a chair. ‘ as an effect of the Inspector as a dramatic device of Priestley’s creation to leave the reader captivated within the play and eager to uncover the truth. On the other hand ‘An Inspector Calls’ can also be categorised as a morality story due to the depiction of the seven deadly sins fused into each character.
Most morality plays have a leading character who represents either humanity as a whole (Inspector Goole/voice of Priestley) or an entire class (upper class the Birlings, working class-Eva Smith). What also adds to the impact of Priestley’s play is the fact that it was written before both world wars and before the Titanic sank which creates irony when Mr Birling comments, ‘The Germans don’t want war. Nobody wants war’. From this we can tell that Mr Birling talks far too much, he is also very foolish and ignorant.
The audience at that time would be very irritated at Mr Birling’s comments as they have been through tormenting ordeals. As it is ironic Priestley can relate to the reader making the story more intriguing. The play opens with the Birling family enjoying their celebration it is thought that they are quite pleasant, however as Mr Birling is caught up in the moment he blurts out his true motives for the marriage of Gerald and his daughter, ‘when Crofts and Birling’s are no longer competing but are working together-for lower costs and higher prices’ implying that the engagement was all a business deal.
It also shows that Mr Birling is greedy and selfish wanting more profit for lower wages. After a toast and some drinks, as if the Birling family have sensed Inspector Goole’s presence their mood changes dramatically. Inspector Goole’s character is very blunt and also has a sense of ‘massiveness’ which creates authority and influence in the response of the Birling’s and forces them to confess their mistake from which we can identify their flaws, ‘Why should you do any protesting?
It was you who turned the girl out in the first place’, the Inspector here is telling Mr Birling off with powerful sentences clearly shows his dislike for their behaviour. He only uses this power over Mr Birling and Mrs Birling, whereas he treats Sheila, Gerald and Eric in a more pleasant manner however he still not lenient to any character, ‘each of you helped to kill her’.
Inspector Goole confronts the Birling’s trying to make them realise how much havoc they have caused and it is not enough to apologise or offer money although it shows what a capitalist Birling is when he states, ‘Look, Inspector-I’d give thousands yes, thousands’. The only possible apology that comes anywhere near to reasonable is if the Birling’s repent and change their ways and obviously from the above quote Mr Birling is showing no signs of this what so ever as he assumes everything can be bought with money which simply is not true.
In addition although some of the Inspector’s comments are out of order as an official as he says, ‘I think you did something terribly wrong and you’re going to spend the rest of your life regretting it’, this is not appropriate because the Inspector has no hard evidence that the Birling’s are to blame and also hypothetically he is to be non biased and also maintain a calm tone.
But as the reader knows there is a mystery waiting to be solved and that the Birling’s are being very stubborn about how much information they reveal, so the Inspector’s actions could be thought to be acceptable. However if we relate to modern society police officer, even if they are sure that they know the suspect has committed the offence under no circumstances can they suggest their views as this is not professional.
Not only that but because the Inspector beforehand knows the Birling’s history from which they can not hide. So this gives an eerie touch to the inspectors personality and leaves the readers trying to figure out who the inspector maybe in disguise. The eerie effect links to the Inspectors name Goole which is a pun on ghoul suggesting that he may be a ghost in human form which is a dramatic device used to make the reader suspicious and want to know the truth.