An Inspector Calls - Role of the Inspector in the play

Revision notes on the role of the Inspector, Inspector Goole, in the play "An Inspector Calls" and how the characters interact with him and what he teaches.

Note: you will need a basic understanding of the play to get the most out of these notes as they are designed for people who have read and understand the key concepts of the play.

Note: although the grammar is not completely correct, it is designed that way so it translates well into an audio file, the full stops at the end of titles make the recorder system put a break between the titles and content rather than running both together.

Note: This is also my first resource I have uploaded!

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Ian Ranson An Inspector Calls ­ The Inspector ­ revision notes
"An Inspector Calls" by JB Priestly.
Revision notes ­ the Inspector, his role and how the characters act towards him.
"An Inspector Calls" is a didactic play which teaches a moral lesson, in this case it teaches the lesson
about responsibility.
It was first performed in 1946, at the end of the Second World War, and the play is set in 1912,
before the First World War. The fact that the audience know things the characters don't is used to
show how Birling and his opinions cannot be trusted.
The playwright, Priestly is concerned that lessons from history must be learnt or else history will
repeat it's self. This is mainly down to the two horrific world wars which had recently happened
when it was first performed.
The Inspector, Inspector Goole, has come to investigate the causes of the suicide of Eva Smith (also
known to Gerald and Eric as Daisy Renton, and called herself Mrs Birling to Mrs Birling at the
women's charity). As the truth comes out it becomes apparent that everyone in the family shares
part of the guilt of causing her death.
Act 1.
The Birlings and Crofts are two upper class families and are both capitalists and believe that it is
"everyman for himself". A supporting quote is "A man has to make his own way ­ has to look after
himself ­ and his family too, when he has one" ­ page 9. However the playwright has previously
shown that Mr. Birling can be wrong in his opinions when he said the Titanic is "unsinkable" and war
is impossible, two things which the audience know turned out true meaning they are expecting Mr
Birling's opinions to be wrong again about how we should live our lives.
The inspector seems to expect socialist attitudes from the family, these ideas are that everyone is
responsible for each other and we should think of others and not our selves.
The inspector is also interested in a "chain of events", where all the main characters share the guilt
of causing Eva Smith's suicide.
Mr Birling claims it would be "very awkward" if everyone was responsible for each other and
The inspector - "It is better to ask for the earth than take it" ­ page 15. Here the inspector calls
Birling greedy because he always wants more money and doesn't have any concern for the people
who are working for him. This is also shown earlier in the play where he wants "higher prices and
lower costs" showing his greed and lack of understanding for the workers. The inspector's comment
is still relevant in today's world which means the play is still very relevant to us.
Sheila ­ "They're not cheap labour, they're people" ­ page 19. Here Sheila opposes her father's
views about the workers saying they are normal people and deserve better wages.

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Ian Ranson An Inspector Calls ­ The Inspector ­ revision notes
The inspector adds to Sheila's comment ­ "I've had that notion myself from time to time" ­ page 19.
Here the inspector is saying that he agrees with Sheila that people are not "cheap labour".
The inspector ­ "I've thought that it'd do us all a lot of good if we tried to put ourselves in the place
of the young women counting their pennies in their dingy back bedrooms".…read more

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Ian Ranson An Inspector Calls ­ The Inspector ­ revision notes
Act 3.
"I think you've done something terribly wrong and you'll spend the rest of your life regretting it".
Final speech ­ page 56.
The Inspector's final speech sums up why he is there and he teaches a message about the need for
people to be responsible for each other, furthermore he says that they'll be "taught in fire and blood
and anguish" if they do not correct their ways.…read more


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