The Character of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls

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Analyse the character of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley. Discuss his: * Role in the play * Effect on the other characters * Stage presence When the Inspector first knocks on the front door, it is dramatic irony because Arthur just said a matter of seconds before of how he ‘might get a knighthood if we don’t get into any sort of trouble’. This is a very significant time of entering, similar to knocking over a tower of Jenga – everything one has hoped for has just evaporated into thin air. As an audience we expect something very important, an altered atmosphere in the play from this moment forward. The Birling’s smug satisfaction is put on hold. It abruptly comes to a halt. Edna comes into the Dining room and says to Mr. Birling, “Please, Sir, an Inspector’s called”. The Inspector, at first appears to the audience to be a police officer. He said he had recently moved to Brumley; the family find out he is a fake when Arthur rings the police station at the end of the play. This news is even more disturbing than the questioning that takes place throughout the play, because they realised that the Inpsector had deceived them all. They had been had! But on the other hand, was the purpose of the visit fulfilled? I think the purpose of his visit was to show the family that their lives and what they do during their life is far more influential than they realise, either positively or negatively. Had they helped Eva Smith, her life may not have been lost, but in fact, the Inspector’s intention was to help them see where they went wrong and secure them on the right pathif they were willing to respond. He wanted to aid them in their understanding that in life there are huge decisions and choices to make which, if are chosen wrongly, can have devastating effects, not only for them but for other people . The reason the Police Inspector arrived here at the Birling household was to investigate a suicide. He seemed to already know everything that the family told him of the questions he was asking. It was as though he had been watching them for the past 10 or so years and knew everything that had gone on. It appears innocent, just routine innocuous questioning. On one level, J.B. Priestley is using the Inspector’s character to solve what seems to be a police inquiry, investigating a suicide. On a deeper level, Priestley is using the Inspector to help the family see where they can take greater responsibility in society; he is helping
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