'An Inspector Calls' by J.B.Priestly is an extremely well written and humorous play that tells us of a suicide committed by a young girl named Eva Smith. We are introduced to a policeman named Inspector Goole visiting a family of high status, and forcing them to tell secrets that they have kept hidden.
We see how quickly the Inspector makes his mark on the Birlings' secure environment. As soon as the Inspector enters the play, he makes a big impact which is shown by the lighting of the stage. Prior to his entrance it is pink, warm and intimate which is in contrast to the brighter, harder lighting after the Inspector arrives. This puts Inspector Goole at an advantage because the family can no longer seek comfort in the pink glow. In Act 1 when Mr. Birling was talking to Eric and Gerald he was speaking 'solemnly' but after the Inspector enters he begins to speak 'somewhat impatiently', like he is slowly starting to lose control of how everyone responds to him. There is also a sense of Inspector Goole being an intimidating character, being around him you have to answer with the truth you can not lie, as pointed out by Sheila at the end of Act 1 ' he knows. Of course he knows'.
Also The Inspector enters at that exact point where Mr. Birling is lecturing Eric and Gerald that 'a man has to mind his own business and look after his self and his own'. This is significant because he is trying to make the point that each person is responsible for the whole community.
Inspector Goole's name is a pun on the word 'ghoul', an ominous spirit or ghost, as a sort of cosmic policeman foreshadowing things to come. The Inspector is not a big man but he conveys a sense of 'purposefulness'. He walks and talks like a man in his fifties, 'wearing a plain dark suit', typical to most policemen of the period. You also see the audience impressed by Inspector Goole's looks, his tall, lean and mysterious figure.
The Inspector talks with a sense of authority. He speaks carefully but has a discomforting habit of looking hard at the person before talking to them, as if looking into their souls. Although he always addresses Mr. Birling as 'Sir' and refers to everyone else by their last names, he is indifferent to the Birlings' high status. For example his response of 'Quite so' when Mr. Birling is reeling off a list of his accomplishment and who he knows. Inspector Goole answers his questions very briefly almost verging on annoyance leaving the Birlings at a disadvantage because they want to know more information about what has happened. He also speaks 'harshly' to the family, in Act 2 Mrs. Birling states that' you have no power to make me change my mind' and Inspector Goole counters that by saying 'yes I have'. The Inspector does not like to be interrupted when he is speaking or when the person he is speaking to is interrupted; on one occasion he even speaks rudely to Mr. Birling when addressing Eric. In the beginning of Act 3 when Shelia, Mr. Birling and Mrs. Birling are having a discussion the Inspector interrupts and says 'There'll be plenty of time, when I've gone, for you all to adjust your family relationships'. He also insists that he does not have 'enough time' as there is a sense that he is in a hurry to conclude the investigation, so that the Birling family can come to terms with their roles in Eva Smith's suicide. Thus we learn that inspector has a very intense and no-nonsense character that aids him in investigating the suicide.
The Inspector also uses a variety of different methods to find out what really happened. The first and most devastating method he uses is the element of surprise. The Inspector happens to walk in at a very important time when Gerald Croft and Shelia Birling are celebrating their engagement. Until that point Mr. Birling is in charge of the evening but soon loses this position because of the Inspector. This sudden change in power confuses the whole family. The second tool he uses is the diary. This diary of Eva Smith gives Goole an upper hand because he knows names, incidences and places where she had met certain people. For example when Goole casually mentions Daisy Renton, Gerald rather startled replies 'What?' This sudden change in Gerald Croft's body language lets the Inspector know that that name means something to him. Again this shows us how intimidating the character of Inspector Goole is.
Whilst interrogating Mr. Birling the Inspector deploys his main tactical device - a photograph. Just how this is brought into play is shown in Act 1 where the Inspector presents it to Birling, when Gerald Croft and Eric go to see the mysterious picture, the inspector moves his body in the way of the two gentlemen to make sure they do not see it. The Inspector later explains that it is how he likes to work 'one person and one line of enquiry at a time'. This is how the Inspector implements his biggest weapon - timing. This builds suspense because now Gerald and Eric are becoming unsettled. His method is to confront a suspect with a small amount of information and make them talk or as Shelia puts it 'he's giving us rope so that we'll hang ourselves'. This shows how Priestly uses the inspector to be a narrator and build suspense in the play.
Inspector Goole is also very good at getting the situation under control again after it starts to get out of hand. This happens in Act 3 when Eric, Sheila, Mr. and Mrs. Birling start to have a fight and Eric blames Mrs. Birling for Eva Smith's death, Goole cuts in and skilfully says 'Stop!', and everyone stops. This is another example of how Mr. Birling has lost his power over the household and the Inspector has claimed his position as 'the boss'.
The play in a whole looks at the Inspector as a ghost of the family's conscience. He tries to let the family know of that something awful that is going to happen. He comes to the Birlings hours before the girl actually commits suicide showing them what is going to happen if they do not stop being selfish and let out their secrets, since now that everyone in the family is involved.
In conclusion 'An Inspector Calls' is a well written; humorous and entertaining play. It focuses on the idea of social awareness, and shows us how one insensible act may lead to another fatal one. Inspector Goole is a great police man because he uses a variety of different techniques to extract information out of the Birlings, after being abrupt and mysterious to gain control. I also think that Inspector Goole is an attractive character in terms of style and attitude. I understand also that he always demands respect even when in front of someone with higher economic status.