To what extent do you agree with this description of the role of the Inspector?
The quotation, " he's giving us the rope to hang ourselves." I think means that the Inspector will allow the family to condemn themselves by criticizing each other, instead of staying together and supporting each other. In this way, the Inspector would be able to clinch information that otherwise he would not be able to get from normal methods of interrogation. It suggests that the Inspector sets the family members against each other by partially revealing some or just parts of information. The Inspector has two main techniques of questioning; he either sparks an argument in the family, and then just sits back and learns what he can, or he will pressure the suspect into confession by bombarding them with short, sharp questions. I think that Sheila, when she realises the questioning methods of the Inspector, tries to keep her family from falling apart due to misinformation or misconceptions of what is being said. She knows that the Inspector will use one member of the family to reveal some information, and then he would tell that to another member, who in turn would start an argument with the said someone. For example, at the beginning when the Inspector first arrives and starts to question Mr. Birling, the Inspector manage to portray Mr. Birling as cruel, as Sheila later calls it " I think it was cruel and vile." (page 45).
From this quote I think that Sheila is aptly summarising the Inspector's method of questioning. By inserting samples' of information every so often, in order to encourage the subject to reveal more information than is necessary to answer the question, the Inspector conveys an aurora of intelligence, and perhaps omniscience. He is able to act almost like a phantom or maybe a God-like figure. The Inspector's name is Goole. It has the same pronunciation as ghoul'. It adds to the mystery and the fog of ignorance surrounding the Inspector and who he really is. Ghoul also describes his background, and the fact that Mr. Birling, who seems to know the Chief Constable, does not know him gives the feel of someone who really does not belong', as if he is from another time period. Ghoul is an addition to the words that have been brought up to sum up the general feeling of the Inspector; you know nothing about him, but he knows everything about you. Throughout the entire ordeal he remains passionate about his job, but at the same time stays objective and neutral. Except when he gets far too emotional and articulates that you must learn something from the trials and tribulations of life. I feel that the Inspector is human, but at the same time it is as if he has slipped through time; his judgements, and the way in which he orders, and shouts at people that are socially higher than him. A real Inspector would have more respect for a family such as the Birlings. Mr. Birling says that he knows the Inspector Chief. This can be interpreted as a very subtle threat. The Inspector would realise that Mr. Birling, as he felt it necessary, could tell the Chief Constable, and that could result in the sacking of the Inspector. But the Inspector pays no heed, to this warning and continues to treat the family with disrespect.
"(very sternly) Her position now is that she lies with a burnt-out inside on a slab. (As Birling tries to protest, turns on him.) Don't stammer and yammer at me again, man. I'm losing all patience with you people. What did he say?"
Here is an extract where the Inspector treats Birling with disrespect; it is near the beginning of Act 2:
Sheila: (urgently, cutting in) You mustn't try to build up a kind of wall between us and that girl. If you do then the Inspector will just break it down. And it'll be worse when he does.
Mrs Birling: I don't understand you. (To Inspector.) Do you?
Inspector: Yes. And she's right.