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What do you think is the importance of Inspector Goole and how does Priestley present him?
Plan
Inspector Goole - Conscientious character - represents socialism
Undermines Mr Birling (Represents Capitalism)
Didactic play - Priestly's mouth piece is the inspector - Changes the views of Eric and Shiels- their
outlook on life
Mr & Mrs Birling cannot be changed
Answer
An Inspector calls is a didactic piece written by the socialist; J.B Priestly. The play revolves around the
"Inspector" the mouth piece of Priestly himself. Inspector Goole's main objective is to break down
the barrier, status and money builds around people. It creates a disinctive separation form the
"normal" people and those of higher status. But even Aristocrats and Nouveau Riche are separated in
their status by class and culture. This is evident through the absence of Gerald's family in the
engagement "party"
The inspector is first described as "an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness" This
immediately creates an impression on the audience, the Inspector is the dominant man, he will have
the final say. The use of the words "massiveness" and "solidity" are often used in the context of
describing a wall, this also creates a notion that the Inspector is unbreakable, but can break. The
word "purposefulness" creates an aura of knowledge and Priestly wants the audience to believe he
knows what he wants, and will get what he wants.
However, this description could also be seen as a way to undermine the Birlings and Gerald. In the
first part of Act 1, before the Inspector arrives, Mr Birling is the dominant in the house. He is an
obvious capitalist, but Priestly purposefully makes the audience dislike him and almost brush his
words off. He is an adamant, selfish character, created to represent capitalism, and Priestly wants
the audience to see that capitalism is quite daft, like how we perceive Mr Birling. He is interested in
only money and status, the dramatic irony used consistently throughout the play is evident first in Mr
Birlings speech. He claims the "Titanic" is "absolutely unsinkable." This just shows how oblivious he is,
we as the audience know the Titanic sinks, but Mr Birling does not and Priestly plays this to his
advantage. Mr Birling is obvious antagonist, the one who we dislike, through the play, he constantly
challenges the Inspector, the protagonist, for the almost "alpha" position he is used to but even as
his children, "the new generation" submit, his wife, Gerald to a certain extent and him do not.
As the play progresses, the Inspector becomes more aggressive in his ways to seek the truth, the
play is set in 1912 where the industrial revolution was still quite new and people like Mr Birling were
practically rolling in cash. But there were many people like Eva Smith, who were trying hard to get by,
and the selfish actions of the Birlings meant her death. Even though the play was written in 1945, one
could say Priestly did to an certain extent foresee the future. He tried to prevent it from occurring, as
we can see throughout the inspectors speech "One Eva Smith has gone--but there are millions and

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Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us ... We don't live alone. We are
members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come
when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." "Fire
and blood and anguish" represents war and that is exactly what happened.…read more

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