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How far is Inspector Goole a believable Policeman? How does Priestly use the
Inspector in the play?
J.B Priestly has written a play called "An Inspector Calls " to portray the difference between
how different statuses are treated in society. Priestly has a very successful way of putting
across his views about responsibility. He exposes his views on responsibility and many other
things through the Inspector Goole and all the way through the audience has the feeling that
he is not like other police inspectors. In the play I believe that Inspector Goole is
Priestley's social conscience.
The play contributes too many social and political messages. Priestley shows a great
amount of passion in socialism and he used An Inspector Calls to influence people to be
Socialists as well. The play was written in a time when Britain was ruled by a Labour
Government and socialist policies were seen as the new way. It was a fashionable way of
thinking at that time so Priestley's aim for the play was probably to teach the disbelievers but
also something about your conscious and respecting everybody as equals. Inspector Goole
is the most important character in the play because, he is the mechanism that
controls the events that take place in the play. Priestley's intentions were to expose
the social state of England in 1945. He felt that little had changed after the war.
The opening scene of the play presents a solidly respectable upper middle class family at
ease with itself and the world. We first encounter the Birlings at the gathering of a
celebration. Mr Birling, the head of the house is automatically portrayed by the
audience as a self important, power craving man who makes it absolutely clear in a
stirring speech that he believes it is " every man for himself " ( Act One ) and family
should be an afterthought.
However, the Inspector seems to take over the whole family and have a total power over who
he is speaking to. I believe that the way the Inspector talks to family is the way Priestley would
have spoken to them. Priestly would have talked to the Birlings in this manner because he
fears they deserve to feel some shame over what they have done. Why should they not have
to face their mistakes when everyone else has to? He is not like other Inspectors, he does
not care if he is rude or nasty he thinks they do not deserve to be treated with respect. This is
probably because, Priestly was a socialist and believed in independence and was for poor
but against the rich. We get the impression Priestly sympathises with the character of Eva
Smith/Daisy Renton and not the Birlings. The Inspectors stage direction tells the audience
that he is a powerful man. You could say more powerful than the Birlings because when they
see him they are struck with fear. The Inspector arrives and is viewed as a force of good. He
has easy access to the Birlings because of their guilty conscious and their attitudes.
His language is blunt, emotive and harsh: "Two hours ago a young woman died in the
Infirmary. She'd been taken there this afternoon because she'd swallowed a lot of
disinfectant. Burnt her inside out, of
course." As Birling later points out, "Just re peating it shakes you a bit. And that's what
he had to do. Shake us at once and then start questioning us until we didn't know
where we were."

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He is very commanding and authoritative, in his speech and in his personal presence:
"he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and
purposefulness." The stage directions repeatedly show him "cutting through
massively" "cutting in massively" "massively taking charge" "With authority", "taking
charge master fully "
He is disgusted and enraged by Eva's situation, saying "She died in misery and agony
hating life". He warns the Birlings, "Public men, Mr. Birling have responsibilities as well
as privileges.…read more

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What priestly is portraying by using Inspector Goole is that even though you do not know
what you have committed you still have done it and have to live with the consequences of it.
One of the consequences would be Eric's drinking problem. He was known as the
irresponsible one. He had gotten Daisy Renton pregnant and never saw her again. This factor
led him to start drinking.…read more

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This makes
him unrealistic to being a policeman but his intention makes him reliable.
However, Inspector Goole's role in the play is as a staging device more than an actual
character. Yet, positioning him as a staging device indicates that he is not a character but,
exists simply to reveal lives of others. Though it is true that An Inspector Calls would not
work without Inspector Goole's role, it then increases him a little to think of him as "just " a
staging device.…read more


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