What do you think is the importance of Inspector Goole and how does Priestley present him?

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In the play ‘An Inspector Calls’ Priestley present the Inspector as a person of great importance from the very beginning of the play and in the title of the play we can see already before reading/watching that he is a key character. Priestley wrote ‘An Inspector Calls’ in 1945 post the trauma of WW1 and 2, having experienced at least one of them up front, but setting the play ultimately in 1912 before any of the outbreaks.

The Inspector is portrayed as an intimidating and authoritative character from the beginning. Priestly presents this through stage directions as the inspector first arrives at the scene of the celebratory dinner party. Before the inspector arrives the lighting is described as ‘pink and intimate’ and when he does arrive, it changes to ‘brighter and harder’. This shows us how the expanse of the evening and the impact that the inspector will have on the characters of the play will be portrayed - distressing and violating. The word ‘harder’ conveys how the Inspector works. He’s sharp and unaffected by the social standing in the Birling’s household. It could also depict how he takes his line of inquires ‘one person at a time’, not breaking at the protests of the other characters or at the accusation and threats Mr and Mrs birling throw his way.

Further into the play, the Inspector talks about the theme of responsibility after Birling consults that Eva smith’s death has nothing to do with him. The Inspector responds with ‘What happened to her then may have determined what happened to her afterwards, and what happened to her afterwards may have driven her to suicide. A chain of events’ outlining the nature of the moral crime the Birling’s and Gerald have committed against Eva. Each of them is responsible in part for her death, and together they are entirely responsible. This construction is itself a metaphor for Priestley's insistence that we are all bound up together and responsible communally




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