Staging devices such as lighting, narration, dance sequences, sound effects, stage props and music are intended to serve a specific purpose in a play. A staging device is usually intended to enhance the play's central message or to create the desired mood and atmosphere. In An Inspector Calls, Inspector Goole's role is central to the play's message of social responsibility. It is through the Inspector's meetings with the Birling family and Gerald Croft that each character is made aware of his or her selfish and uncaring attitude towards the less fortunate in society. In this sense, Inspector Goole is a staging device but he exceeds the expectations of such a role and it would be unfair to call him 'just' a staging device.
Before the Inspector arrives at the Birling home we meet the family celebrating Mr Gerald Croft's engagement to Sheila Birling. Mr Birling is an industrialist and the people at his table represent the wealthy upper class, whose speech and actions reflect the arrogance and prejudice of such families. Mrs Birling's reproach to her husband for having paid the cook a compliment for the fine meal, [Arthur, you're not supposed to say such things], is an example of the blatant disregard shown for servants such as Edna.
Inspector Goole is a mystery from the moment he enters the Birling family's home and lives. Mr Birling is impatient with Goole's suicide story from the beginning.
Yes, yes. Horrible business. But I don't understand why you should come here, Inspector.
But in spite of Mr Birling's expressed annoyance, Inspector Goole insists that his visit is both important and justified. It is not long before we are being informed of Mr Birling and Sheila's involvement with Eva Smith.
It is through the Inspector's methodical investigative approach
It's the way I like to go to work. One person and one line of inquiry at a time....