Inspector: An Inspector Calls


Inspector: Priestley's Message

  • He is Priestley’s voice- he represents Priestley’s strong moral views. His job is to make the characters change their attitudes, face up to what they have done and start taking their responsibility for each other.

  • He heightens the drama- his entrances and exits are well timed in order to create maximum tension

  • He controls the structure of the play

  • Inspector Goole’s character doesn't change. He always remains assertive throughout. However he seems to gain more control over the characters as the play progresses.  


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Inspector: Analysis

  • He arrives at a critical time – to interrupt Mr Birling and his selfish views: ‘a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own' – and – We hear the sharp ring of a front doorbell.’ The Inspector’s role is to show that this is not the case.
  • The Inspector uses the pronoun 'we' whereas Mr Birling and Mrs Birling use 'I'. Priestley creates a division between the Birlings selfish desires and Priestley's own message of collective responsibility.
  • He is described in the stage directions as giving ‘an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’. He takes charge immediately from Mr Birling and remains in control throughout. Mr Birling attempts to regain control, but fails as the Inspector quickly regains his control (The Inspector interrupts Birling ‘cutting through, massively’). Goole remains solid as each of them breaks down and nothing distracts him from his purpose.


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Inspector: Analysis part 2

  • He is clearly there to challenge and investigate. He has a habit of ‘looking hard’ at the person he is interrogating before starting to speak. This unnerves the characters.

  • He directs the investigation carefully, dealing with ‘one line of enquiry at a time’. Therefore, he is controlling the structure of the play.

  • He is a teacher – to teach each character (and the audience) of the importance of social responsibility.

  • Goole might have made a reference to the Bible in his statement "We are members of one body". His assertion suggests a moral character, with Biblical characteristics of compassion and love.

  • He uses aggressive, shocking language to make the characters feel guilty for the part they played in Eva Smith’s death: ‘she died in misery and agony’

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Inspector: Key Quotes, Act 1

'He creates at once the impression of massiveness, solidarity and purposefulness'- the inspector is an imposing figure who will dominate the play and achieve his aim. 

'Burnt her insides out'- harsh language contrasts violently with the polite and playful atmosphere in the beginning.

'(cutting through massively)'- dominates over other characters, taking charge, asserting himself

'One person and one line of inquiry at a time. otheriwse, there's a muddle.'- he is essential in moving the story forward and he affects the pace of the action. he is instrumental in creating dramatic tension

'A chain of events'- Inspector outlines the nature of the moral crimes the Birlings and Gerlad have commited against Eva. Each of them is responsible in part for her death and together are entirely responsible. he hithlights how one small action can have a huge effect on the lives of others.  

'It's better to ask for the Earth than to take it'

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Inspector: Key Quotes, Act 1, part 2

'It's my duty to ask questions' - takes responsibilities seriously unlike some characters and he isn't about other people's superiority to get in the way of his duty 

'(dryly)'- shows no interest as he is here to unfold the events that happened to Eva Smith

'When I was in the imfirmary looking at what was left of Eva Smith. A nice little promising life there, I thought, and a nasty mess somebody's made of it.  

'(Cutting in, massively) You heard what I said before, Mr Croft. One line of inquiry at a time.'

'So you used the power you had... to punish the girl' 

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Inspector: Key Quotes, Act 2

'And you think young women ought to be protected against unpleasent and disturbing things?'

'(massively taking charge)'

'A girl died tonight. A pretty, lively sort of girl, who never did anybody any harm. But she died in misery and agony- hating life'

'She feels responsible' (Sheila- Inspector has done his job)

'She'll be alone with her responsibility' 

'You see, we have to share something. If there is nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt.'

'(cutting in with authority)'

'(harshly) yes she's dead'

'And then you decided to keep her as your mistress'

'Your daughter isn't living on the moon'

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Inspector: Key Quotes, Act 2, part 2

'Apologise for what? Doing my duty?'

'Public men, Mr Birling, have responsibilities as well as privilages' - the Inspector preaches Priestley's views to the Birlings. He shows that he thinks Mr Birling has failed to see that his public position entails a duty of responsibility to other people.'

'You have no hope of not discussing it, Mrs Birling'

'She came to you for help, at a time when no woman could have needed it more. And you not only refused it but you saw it to that the others refused it too.'

'She was here alone, friendless, almost penniless, desperate. She needed not only money but adice, sympathy and friendliness.'

'And you slammed the door in her face' 

'(very sternly) Her position now is that she lies with a burnt-out inside on a slab.'

'Don't stammer and yammer at me again, man. I'm losing all paitence with you people'.- shows how the Inspector (Priestley) is fed up of capitalists 

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Inspector: Key Quotes, Act 3

'But each of you helped her kill her' - the Inspector emphasises how each of the family are responsible and must learn their actions have consequences. 

'(very sharply) I don't want any of it from either of you. Settle it afterwards.- authoratitive tone.

'Just used her for the end of a stupid drunken evening, as if she was an animal, a thing, not a person'

'(rather savagely to Birling)'- animalistic imagery, inspector is invested in the message he delivers.

'(he makes a move as if concluding the session, possibly shutting up notebook etc. Then surveys them sardonically)'- Inspector has done what he needed to do.

'No I don't think any of you will forget'

'Eva Smith is gone. You can't do her any more harm. And you can't do her any good now, either. You can't even say 'I'm sorry Eva Smith''- Inspector reinforces they can't hurt her but can't save her. 

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Inspector: Key Quotes, Act 3, part 2

'But remember this. One Eva Smith has gone- but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do. 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. Good night.'

  • 'John Smith's' highlights there are others similar to Eva
  • 'intertwined'- trying to get across we are all linked
  • 'We are members of one body'- contrasts to Birling's speech
  •  'If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish'- Birling's philosophy at the start of the play and the Inspectors is at the end.
  • 'fire and blood and anguish'- hellish imagery (apocaliptic imagery)- extremety of suffering by the 'sharp ring of the door bell'
  • Inspector controls when he finishes speaking whereas Birling gets interrupted. 
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