The Function of the Inspector in the Play An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

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The Function of the Inspector in the Play An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley The Inspector is the backbone of the play and orchestrates the entire storyline. He is described on his entrance as creating 'an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.' symbolising the fact that he is an unstoppable force within the play. His 'disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before speaking' gives the impression that he sees through surface appearances to the real person beneath. He is also a figure of authority, dealing with each member of the family very firmly and several times he 'massively' takes charge as arguments erupt between them. Many things about the Inspector's manner and character make the realism of his character as an inspector unbelievable. The Inspector arrives just after Mr Birling has spoken about his views on life, that every man must only look out for himself. The Inspector's views, however, clearly contrast with these, and throughout the play he demonstrates how people are responsible for the future and lives of others. This is conveyed dramatically in his final speech, when he says, 'we are members of one body. We are responsible for each other'. One rather mysterious characteristic of the Inspector is that he knows a great deal about the history of Eva Smith and the Birlings involvement in it, even before she is taken to the infirmary. He also appears to know that things are going to happen, such as when he says 'I'm waiting...To do my duty', just before Eric's return, probably indicating that he expected Eric to reappear at exactly that moment. Another example of this is the gre... ... middle of paper ... ...elieved that one cannot "accept responsibility for everything that happened to everybody", that causes wars and conflicts. The Inspector has an important role and function in the play. At the start of the play, he is accepted as a real character, but gradually, throughout the play, his credibility as a real inspector and physical human character disappears. The mystery of the Inspector remains unsolved, and adds a new and interesting dimension to the play. He also has an exceptionally significant impact on the play and quickly alters the atmosphere of the play. His primary function as a character is to lead the audience through the life of Eva, and teach the characters on stage and more importantly the audience that each and every one of us is a member of the same body and we are all "responsible for each other".
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