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An Inspector Calls was written by John Boynton Priestley was written in 1945. The function of the Inspector really lifts the pace of the play and creates a lot of tension with his "one line enquiry". The Inspector is supposed to be a supernatural person, who claims to be a police inspector, arriving with news of a suicide. "A young girl has died in the infirmary from ingesting disinfectant. The Inspector is like the conductor of this play and he is in control throughout his investigation. 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 ' 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 interrogates the wealthy Birling family and reveals that they are all have a part to play. J.B.Priestley believed a great deal in socialism and he used several moments in his play to try and influence people to be a socialist at that time. Priestley is building up an image of middle-class society as selfish and without any sense of moral responsibility and care. But the inspector is here to change this situation. The play is focused around the Birling family. A visit from the mysterious Inspector Goole proves to be a worried timed for the Birling family and a good reputation turning bad.
First and foremost the Inspector is used to voice Priestley's socialist's views. The inspector puts across a lot of social and political messages. Some of the messages are put through the characters which are made interesting and are perceived in many ways and this doesn't only entertain the audience but also persuades them to become socialist. This is shown when Mr Birling states "The titanic will be a big and a luxurious ship and will be strong and unsinkable". Here Priestley portrays Mr Birling as "deficient and ridiculous" and tries to convince the audience that the capitalism of Mr Birling is wrong, and shows socialism in a persuasive way. The audience know that the titanic was "not such a successful" ship but due to the play written in 1945 and set in 1912 it shows that Priestley wants to put through his socialists views and make the audience fell that capitalists are not up to any good. One of the main themes is that capitalism is bad, and everyone in society has a duty to look after each other. He predicts a down moment is like with "fire, blood and anguish" which refers to the First World War. During the investigation, Mr. Birling refers to Eva Smith; the girl who supposedly committed suicide as "cheap labour," commenting that it was his duty to discharge her when she asked for a raise in order to keep costs down. This shows that the Birling family are only worried about their reputation and no other lower classes.
Furthermore the Inspector is shown by Priestley to be a moral Inspector. The Inspector says: 'This girl killed herself - and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it'. He is making a moral judgement on the people involved. He is also showing how the upper class society are not tormented about what the lower class people are doing for them and do not really care about them, all they worry about is their reputation in the upper class. But the Inspector has come to the Birling family to show them some sort of responsibility and care.
Importantly the Inspector controls the action and tension on stage. He uses really strong and persuasive language. ""He also makes characters feel pressured and under the spot light by questioning the characters about their flaws and sins. The Inspector is a figure of authority and his "one line enquiry" and the force of the Inspector voice really reveals the pass actions of the characters and helps the enquiry move on quickly. As the play develops he stands his authority more and now he is taking charge "masterfully" and saying things like "Be quiet for a moment, and listen to me." He is really in control at this moment and making the characters swing his way in the investigation. Every character in the play apart from the maid is questioned about their involvement with the death of Eva Smith. One by one the characters are singled out and investigated. "It's the way I like to go to work. "One person and one line of inquiry at a time."
However, the Inspector is not just a dramatic device he is also a fascinating character of his own. It is this mysterious element that contributes to making him a very interesting character and one that may be perceived in many ways. The audience does not find a lot out about the Inspector and nothing is clearly told to us; they are given hints and clues from the way he acts and what he says and are pushed to make their own interpretations about the Inspector. By this mysterious element of the Inspector the Birling family are really curious and get really impatient with the Inspector, especially Mr Birling, ", I can't accept any responsibility. "If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn't it?" The Inspector is really questioning Mr Birling about his part in this enquiry and making Mr Birling as he is under the hot seat. His final speech is like a politician's. He leaves the family with the message "We are responsible for each other" and warns them of the "fire and blood and anguish" that will result if they do not pay attention to what he has taught them. All this mystery suggests that the Inspector is not a 'real' person. This doesn't only have an effect on the characters but on the audience to. They start to wonder who the Inspector really is, is he a ghost, voice of Priestley? It creates a sense of mystery in the audience's mind.
Throughout the play the Inspector is in full control of speech and movement on stage. He is described on his entrance as creating "an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. The stage direction "massively" gives you an impression that the Inspector has a great deal of power over the Birling family. Sheila has regarded him as "wonderingly and dubiously", later she said that "no one told him anything that he did not already know" The inspector is successfully bringing Sheila to a realisation of their guilt and responsibility with his powerful voice and "one line enquiry". This then goes to affect Mr and Mrs Birling because the Inspector is leading their children into admitting that they are guilty in this enquiry and have had a part to play in Eva Smith's suicide. Mr and Mrs Birling are now worried about their reputation in their upper class society and want to sort this out immediately.
Staging devices such as lighting, sound effects, and music are intended to serve a dramatic purpose in a play. Priestley says that the lighting should be "pink and intimate" before the Inspector arrives - a rose-tinted glow - when it becomes "brighter and harder." This shows that the Inspector has arrived and it shows that
this is turning serious and so the characters movements and reactions are clearly seen by the audience. It is also relating to the importance of the Inspector and how when he enters the mood changes from a celebratory to a more serious and suspicious. A staging device is usually intended to enhance the play's central message or to create the desired mood and atmosphere. In Stephen Daldry's play the deep, sudden change of music and light really helps the audience see what is happening on stage and help them find out what the moods of the different characters are. He also uses the lighting (which gets brighter when the inspector is present) to make the spotlight on everyone and create an intense atmosphere on stage. This also helps the play pick up pace and moods of characters also progress. For example, early on we wonder whether the happy atmosphere is slightly forced. A Sheila wonder where Gerald was last summer, Eric get agitated and feels nervous, about something. This makes the audience think, and they want to know what will happen after.
Finally, the last function of the inspector is to act as the voice of conscience. The inspector is being displayed as the voice of conscience, he shows that all actions do that people take, can lead to bad consequences such as an employee getting fired and, which can possibly end in a suicide, shown in this case. He is trying to put across a message not only to the Birling family but also to the audience. "One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do". This final speech at the end of the play show the collective responsibility of people and how everyone is linked in society, no matter what class they are in. He adds a clear warning about what could happen if, like some members of the family, we ignore our responsibility, "And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, when they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish". Priestley here is probably thinking partly about the world war they had just lived. He teaches that everyone is linked and we should all co-operate to make the world a better place.
The Inspector has had a big impact in this play, not only to the character but to the audience too. He encourages not just the characters, but the audience too to learn from their mistakes to give everyone a happier life and a better future. Margaret Thatcher stated" there is no such thing as society". This is a big step forward for the Birling family to take in their future. Living in an upper-class society can be a luxurious and relaxing time but do they ever have one moment to think about the others around the world and what they are living in. The poverty and poor conditions that people are living and working in. In this play Priestley has put a message across to the future readers of this world, and has taught them some moral responsibility and care for others. The different functions of the Inspector helps the audience get a picture of the future in their minds and think about how their actions at present can have an impact on future life, not only on them but on others to. It also shows how from the 1940's a lot of things have changed in society, nowadays there is no such thing as society and everyone is participating in people's lives and is helping to change those people who need a better quality of life. This is to give a rather obvious moral to this play saying that everybody's actions affect everyone else and no one should be selfish as it could influence someone's life greatly in a chain of events.