How does Priestley present Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls? (The…
How does Priestley present Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls?
The Inspector takes charge
The Inspector arrives unexpectedly, he just says he's here to ask some questions.
He is an outsider: he does not seem to have much in common with the Birlings.
The Inspector leaves after delivering a speech about social responsibility.
When Gerald finds out that the Inspector is a fake, the older characters forget his speech and try to avoid the blame.
He is described as authoritative and imposing: he is not a big man but his presence fills the room.
The Inspector is the driving force of the play: he keeps things rolling by asking pushy questions
He starts it all off with a summary of the afternoon's events - 'Suicide, of course'.
He forces more information out of people by bluntly saying what the other characters try to skirt around, for example when Gerald is describing how he met Daisy Renton the Inspector asks 'And then you decided to keep her as your mistress?'. This is a rhetorical question, forcing Gerald to admit the truth.
He also reveals new information which heightens the drama, such as when he drops it into the conversation. An example of this is when he says that 'this girl was going to have a child'.
The Inspector's calling is pretty ominous
The word 'calls' sounds casual, as if he is just dropping in.
'Calls' is a deceptive word to use about the Inspector. He may appear casual and spontaneous but in fact he is single-minded and calculating. If anything, he 'calls' the shots.
Another inspector 'calls' the Birling household on the telephone at the end of the play.
The title of the play is echoed in Edna' s words as she announces the arrival of Inspector Goole at the start of the play and in the telephone call at the end of the play.
His language is emotive and personal
Inspector Goole has come to the house to stir things up. He does this with emotive language.
He describes Eva Smith as a 'pretty' and 'lively' girl. These attractive words make the audience more sympathetic towards her.
This sympathy is strengthened by the harsh tone used to describe her death. He says that she is now lying 'with a burnt-out inside on a slab'.
Sheila is 'rather distressed' by the Inspector's language and says that she 'can't help thinking about this girl destroying herself'.
The Inspector uses shock tactics
He answers his own questions if he is not happy with someone's answer, so when Sybil refuses to admit there was a committee meeting he says 'You know very well there was, Mrs Birling'.
He follows up questions with more questions until he has pieced together a confession, so when Sybil won't say she convinced the committee to reject Eva's appeal he asks 'Was it or was it not your influence?'
He is blunt, saying 'You're not even sorry now, when you know what happened', and is prepared to ask personal questions eg when he asked Gerald 'Were you in love with her?'
He knows how to make an entrance and exit
The inspector's timing is crucial. Priestley has the Inspector ring the bell just as Arthur says 'a man has to mind his own business'. It is as if Birling's announcement summons the Inspector to prove the exact opposite.
The Inspector uses exits as a clever tactic. Leaving Sheila and Gerald alone lets Sheila interrogate Gerald and allows the time for suspicion to break them apart. This makes it easier to get Gerald to confess when the Inspector returns.
The Inspector's language gets more dramatic, which builds on the tension and emotion of the final scene. He claims that if the Birlings don't learn their lesson they will be taught it in 'fire and blood and anguish'
After his last exit there is a sudden silence because no one else has been speaking. The audience, like the characters on stage, are left 'staring, subdued and wondering'.