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Essay about The Function of the Character Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls

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John Boynton Priestley was born on 13th September 1894 in Bradford, Yorkshire and died in 1984. Queen Victoria died in 1901 (when Priestley was seven years old), thus ending the ‘Victorian’ era. Her son then became King Edward VII, which was the start of what we know as the ‘Edwardian’ era.

When Priestley was sixteen he left school and worked in a firm of wool merchants, but joined the army and served in the First World War, (1914-18) on the front line in France. He was wounded and gassed.

At the age of twenty-five he was awarded a place at Cambridge to study literature, history and political science and later went on to work as a journalist in London. An article he wrote in 1957 led to the formation of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament or CND.

An Inspector Calls is a play with multiple social and political messages, J.B Priestly was a socialist and was also against capitalism as he believed it favoured the rich and powerful and encouraged greed and selfishness.

The play takes place entirely inside the Birlings dining room within their home, in Brumley an industrial city in the North midlands, in an evening in spring 1912, as we are introduced to the characters in the opening scene, they are in the middle of celebrating their daughter’s (Sheila Birling) engagement to Gerald Croft the son of Sir George Croft of Crofts Ltd, an extremely wealthy businessman and a competitor and rival of Arthur Birling, who owns Birling & Co, a manufacturing company

One of the most important things to realise about the Inspector is that he has three functions on three different dramatic levels:

Function 1: A Realistic Level (within the world of the play)
None of the Birling’s expected Inspector Goole to show up at their home, and...


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...st and saw many problems with capitalism in the world; he believed it meant that wealthy people could live good lives at the expense of other less fortunate people.

The character Arthur Birling is a representation of pre-WW1 opinions, while Inspector Goole represents Priestley’s own views on rights and responsibilities; he believed that people were all part of one body, one community, and one species; he believed that people should be able to look after and understand each other, he believed that

Throughout the play we see Priestley’s political and social beliefs reflected through the Inspector, he offers the watching audience a message that is saying that we should give more thought about those around us, that we should about whether society as a whole is morally right, Inspector Goole isn’t just a “police officer” he’s a philosopher and a social commentator.


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