An Inspector Calls, J.B Priestley:
“Who is Inspector Goole and what is his role in the play?”
Priestley creates a rather particular ‘character’ that interrogates each member of a more or less banal family in the beginning of the 20th century. It is in the very last lines of the novel that the reader becomes aware of the fact that Inspector Goole defies all rules of rationality and possible normality. Though this theme is maintained throughout the story, the author presents a moral when we understand that the Inspector can be in fact a ghost or an angel sent from God to transmit a message to this family. He represents the conscience of all those he questions and makes them realise their wrong doings.
When Inspector Goole first steps into the room, the Birlings and Gerald are unsettled at his level of imposing upon them:
“The Inspector need not be a big man but he creates at once an
impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.”
He dresses in plain clothes but has a manner and certain way of “disconcerting” the people he interrogates:
“[…] dressed in a plain darkish suit of the period. He speaks carefully,
weightily, and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person
he addresses before actually speaking.”
From these descriptions, we are immediately drawn to the fact and are aware that the Inspector is a very commanding person. This draws a conflict between Goole and certain Birlings, due to the fact that this family would be socially and financially superior to any kind of inspector. The tension grows at moments when Mr Birling considers the Inspector as a very unwelcome stranger:
“We were having a nice little family celebration tonight. And a nasty
mess you’ve made of it now, haven’t you?”
Slowly and steadily, the Inspector breaks down the relationships that once tied the family together in a bond, and separates them, each becoming a more spiteful and vindictive person. Every character learns to trust no one...
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