Inspector Goole

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Who is Inspector Goole? His identity is a mystery; he is not a real policeman though as Eric says, "He was our police inspector all right"(p.59) he did such a good job at making each person admit his/her guilt. Possible explanations of Goole's identity that the essay will tackle are: • simply an imposter who played an elaborate hoax on a group of upper class people who deserved to be frightened in this way. • some kind of spiritual being or emissary with a moral mission to punish selfish behaviour among the rich on Earth; the name ‘Goole' may imply a parallel with ‘Ghoul' (ghost, spirit). The fact that he seems omniscient (all-knowing), possessing knowledge which it seems he could not have known by normal means, supports the theory that there is something supernatural about him. • a ‘mouthpiece' for J.B. Priestley; Priestley was a socialist, and firmly believed that "we are all members of one body" etc. An Inspector Calls is a didactic play with a clear moral and political message which Priestley wanted the audience to accept. Priestley uses Goole to voice views which he himself held. Mr Birling says the Inspector was "Probably a Socialist or some sort of crank he talked like one"(p.60). • the ‘embodiment of a collective conscience'. Your conscience is the ‘voice within' which tells you when you are doing something you know to be wrong; Goole performs this role, but is a physical manifestation of conscience perhaps the Birlings' and Gerald's shared, subconscious idea of what ‘conscience' would look like and how it would act. • a means of coordinating the drama and allowing Priestley to stick to the theatrical unities of ‘time place and action' by letting the Inspector pursue "one line of enquiry at a time."
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