An Inspector Calls

Topics: An Inspector Calls, Plays, The Smiths Pages: 6 (2289 words) Published: March 18, 2011
'An Inspector Calls' is a play written by J.B. Priestley, and was set in 1912, but was first written and performed in 1945. In the play, a girl commits suicide, and an inspector arrives to interview the Birlings - a very rich family - who seem to be involved in the crime. Inspector Goole interrupts their happy, celebrative dinner to prove to them that they were collectively responsible for the death of Eva Smith. He contributes to the play in a wide range of areas; playing different roles, exploring motives and his positions.

In many ways, the Inspector can be referred to as a priest. The language he uses with the Birlings sounds religious, for instance, "they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish.'' He does this to intimidate the Birlings, and to add dramatic effect, he uses three apocalyptical words that are vivid and have a visual impact on the characters. This way, he gets his message across more efficiently. In addition, the Inspector makes biblical references in his dialogue, "It's better to ask for the earth than to take it." This shows he is speculative and gives his guidance, like a priest. Traditionally, priests have supported those in need. He warns them about the consequences of their actions, and lectures them about raising their awareness. He represents the lower class on the social spectrum; he guides the upper class (the Birling family) and shows them the errors of their ways in order for them to feel guilty, as well as to empathise with those they have wronged. "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." He wants equality between people, "It would do us all good if we tried to put ourselves in the place of these young women.' Again, he uses the

effect of putting his point across in a set of three rhetorical statements. The repetition of 'we' emphasises his point, as if he were trying to impress it in their minds. Furthermore, he seems to be the only one to keep control once all the truth is out. Sheila and Eric become frantic, Mr. and Mrs. Birling worry about keeping their reputation, while the Inspector takes charge. "Stop! And be quiet for a moment and listen to me." He is very authorative and firm; he always had the upper hand.

As well as being priest-like, the Inspector has a harsh impact on the other characters in the play. He uses power in his words to control the characters, "You heard what I said before, Mr. Croft." The fact that the new character represents socialist views, and that he was a massive character, shocked the Birlings. However, the younger generation – Sheila and Eric – seemed to have been affected most by him. In Act 3, after the Inspector leaves, Eric exclaims, "You and I are not the same people we once were, Sheila." This implies the fact that he has changed, and the Inspector drove him against his parents. Sheila and Eric have a 'spiritual awakening', where they realise how they have sinned and regret doing so. Unlike the younger generation, Mr. and Mrs. Birling are not influenced by the Inspector. They only care about their reputation, and how they are going to use their money to hide or avoid any gossip about them, "Most of this is bound to come out. There'll be a public scandal." They feel no regret for what they have done to Eva Smith, and are not prepared to accept any blame. Despite this, they are still intimidated by the Inspector, for example he says, "Public men, Mr. Birling, have responsibilities as well as privileges." He is very assertive and refuses to be put in a lesser position by Mr. Birling. "It's my duty to ask questions." He is loyal to his duty, but constantly refers to it as a justification to be in control. Mr. Birling states, "I can’t see why you should want to talk to him, Inspector, but if you must, I suggest you do it now." He will always end up giving in to the Inspector. The Inspector represents an authority that they can't challenge. He has his individual methods of receiving the truth. He...
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