An Inspector Calls Symbolism

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Sheila is perhaps the most sympathetic of the Birlings, though her own part in Eva’s death is arguably less defensible than Mr Birling’s. She is a highly perceptive character who is the first to realise that the Inspector is no ordinary policeman, and that he has an almost supernatural knowledge: “Why – you fool – he knows.

Of course he knows. And I hate to think how much he knows that we don’t know yet. ” Similarly, she is the first to realise that the father of Eva’s baby is none other than Eric, and tries to get her mother to stop insisting that he should be held responsible: “(With sudden alarm) Mother – stop – stop!

” Sheila feels genuine remorse for what she did, and passionately believes that they should learn from the Inspector’s visit so as never to repeat such a crime.

“And don’t let’s start dodging and pretending now. Between us we drove that girl to commit suicide. ” Her reaction to the revelation that Goole was not a ‘real’ Inspector is totally different to Gerald’s and her parents’: “whoever that Inspector was, it was anything but a joke. You knew it then.

You began to learn something. And now you’ve stopped. You’re ready to go on in the same old way.

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” Gerald Croft is, like the Birlings, a member of the upper class. He is described as “very much the easy well-bred young man-about-town. ” He is slightly older than Eric, and seems far more assured, confident and capable of dealing with awkward situations, though at the end he does not show the strength of character which Eric displays by accepting his part in Eva’s death.

Symbolism In An Inspector Calls

Mrs Birling typifies the older generation in that she prefers to remain ignorant of anything which may be ‘upsetting’ or which might not fit into her artificially well-ordered world; for example, she is “staggered” and “shocked”, both by the revelation that Eric drinks heavily. This ignorance makes her seem nai? ve, more ‘innocent’ than her children, but in fact it is all based on her desire to avoid hearing anything which is ‘offensive’ to her superior sensibility. When she hears of Gerald’s involvement with Eva she says with the deepest contempt “It’s disgusting to me.

” Goole (and Priestley) takes a grim satisfaction in the way she attacks the husband of Eva’s child; the message here is that by avoiding all knowledge of anything unpleasant, Mrs Birling is abandoning her responsibility to others as a member of society, but also her responsibility as a mother for the welfare of her son. This, Priestley implies, is the logical – and just – result of such immoral, wilful blindness. When Eric makes his confession, Mrs Birling has to leave the room, unable to bear hearing such dreadful news – but soon returns, admitting “I had to know what’s happening”.

The Inspector symbolises many things in his role in the play. The Inspectors final speech before he leaves the play is significant. In this speech the inspector says to the Bilrlings that their lives are not separate and that others are “all intertwined with our lives, and what we say and do”. He makes a point about community “we don’t live alone” and “we are members of one body”. Priestley is warning us about the effect that we have on others and we do not live alone, (no man is an island). So we have to treat others with dignity and respect. The Inspector also seems to have a spiritual role.

The Birlings are confessing their sins to The Inspector; this shows a priest-like quality. The Inspector is acting as a moral guide, he neither forgives nor punishes just make characters face up to the fact that they must judge themselves as only then they will have learned enough to change. The Inspector also teaches and preaches that the more privileges people have, the more responsible they need to be. The end of the play is a hoax but it is not important that he is not a real inspector. The Inspector symbolises an all knowing spiritual figure.

There is even a pun on his name “Goole” as in ghoul. Priestley uses The Inspector as a voice of social conscience and claims that “we’ll have to share our guilt”. The inspector makes the characters realise what they had done. He enters just after Mr. Birling talks about “every man for himself” to show to him that what he does in his life has an indirect relationship between on other people’s lives. It does not matter if one is an inspector to be able to teach someone this lesson of life. There is a big dramatic impact at the end of the play. The inspector’s exit is sudden and unforeseen.

The Inspector leaves just after saying “Good Night”. This is a short, sudden and dramatically effective sentence. Priestley is saying, of all the Eva Smiths in the world, that their lives are “all intertwined with our lives” and that they have fallen victim of society’s inequality. J. B. Priestley was a left wing author. At the time that the play was being written, Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of Great Britain. Winston Churchill was a right wing leader, the opposite of what Priestley was, and Priestley has different views to Churchill.

However, at the time the play was released in England, in 1946, Clement Atlee was the Prime Minister. Clement Atlee was a labour Prime Minister who was in favour of a welfare state, which are the views articulated by Priestley in An Inspector Calls. An Inspector Calls is not just about Britain in 1912, it is about contemporary Britain in 1946, and it is still relevant today. J. B. Priestley could be using The Inspector as a device to express his own political views and immortalise his moral standings.

Priestley uses The Inspector as a messenger. In conclusion, the Inspector’s role is straightforward. The Inspector has interrupted the lives of the Birling’s to teach them about life, morality and the importance of community. The Inspector symbolises a priest-like figure, a narrator and a moral conscience. The Inspector takes control of the Birling’s house hold, which is a very shocking thing to do at the time the play was set. The Inspector preaches a lot of J. B. Priestley’s political views of community, unity and socialism

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An Inspector Calls Symbolism. (2019, Dec 07). Retrieved from

An Inspector Calls Symbolism
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