Inspector Goole Character Notes

  • Created by: emmak10
  • Created on: 04-04-17 10:06


The Inspector is used as a dramatic device by Priestley. He has many uses in the play.

-The point at which the Inspector enters the play is very important. His entrance interrupts Birling’s speech just as he says “a man has to… look after himself and his own-”. The audience get the impression Birling will finish this sentence with “family”, as he has used this phrase slightly earlier on in his speech. This shows that the Inspector is going to highlight Birling’s selfishness and how he doesn’t look after his family at all- which is expressed through Eric saying “you’re not the kind of father a chap can go to when he is in trouble” and Eric has only been able to say this because he has matured due to the Inspector’s questioning. It also hints at the Inspector’s omniscience and out-of-this-worldliness because it makes the reader question how it was that the doorbell rang at this exact time. In Act 3, when Sheila firsts questions whether the Inspector is real or not, we are reminded of the Inspector’s entrance, with Eric saying to his father “do you remember what you said to Gerald and me after dinner… that a man has to make his own way… we weren’t to take any notice of these cranks… and then one of those cranks walked in”. This highlights the Inspector as a socialist, and therefore Priestley’s moral mouthpiece, and shows the significance of his entrance. Sheila says that his entrance is “queer”, again showing the audience the significance.

-The Inspector is a very dominant character. The stage directions describe he created “at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness” which shows he will not back down to the Birlings’ intimidation, no matter how many times Birling reminds him of his social status, such as the fact he “was an alderman for years and Lord Mayor two years ago” and is “still on the Bench”. A less dominating inspector may not have inspected the Birlings so harshly.

-Priestley uses humour to humanise the Inspector, for example when Birling talks about playing golf with the “Chief Constable, Colonel Roberts” in order to threaten/scare the Inspector, the Inspector replies “dryly” saying “I don’t play golf”. This humour makes him a more credible and believable character.

-Another role of the Inspector is to make the plot revelations and to control action: “one person and one line of enquiry at a time”. The Inspector only talks to one character at a time, in chronological order, which allows Priestley to build up a “chain of events”. He only allows the person he is questioning to see the photograph (which links to the photograph as a dramatic device). This presents him as methodical and links to his dominating character. It also suggests he may not be real because a real police inspector would question everyone alone but the Inspector already knows what everyone has done, he just wants the others to see their actions. He also…


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