This sample paper on An Inspector Calls Analysis offers a framework of relevant facts based on the recent research in the field. Read the introductory part, body and conclusion of the paper below.
Firstly, we have the Stage Instructions to consider. Throughout the play, there is no mention of Inspector Goole’s physical appearance except in the first set of stage instructions when he enters the Birlings’ house. He is said to “need not be a big man but he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness.
” As for his age, he is “a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit of the period.” There is no mention of any distinctive features to define him so already, an air of mystery has been created about this so-called inspector. For me, his “massiveness, solidity and purposefulness” and his name “Goole” build up a feeling of fear and this first set of instructions lead me to believe that he could be in the form of a ghost returning to teach the Birlings a lesson about responsibility.
An additional example of this, is when Inspector Goole is talking to Mr. and Mrs. Birling (and occasionally Gerald) Priestley has added in instructions so that Goole speaks to them “savagely” and “severely”, which indicates he has less patience and is not as forgiving with them as he is with the children, Eric and Sheila. I think this shows the possibility of Inspector Goole taking on the role of Priestley himself because the point of this drama is to portray a certain message.
To be able to portray this message he has to make everyone accept their responsibilities which is more difficult with the older generation, therefore Goole begins to lose his patience with them.
Another important issue is the way in which Priestley has structured the play. As Inspector Goole is questioning the members of the household, Priestley has made sure it is obvious that there is a certain order in which they must questioned. When Gerald asks to see the picture the inspector says, “hold on, your time will come” and “one line of inquiry at a time” This shows he has already planned out whom he will speak to first and last and what information he will have. Due to the fact he already knows that each of them holds a key to Eva Smith’s death, it is likely he could be a time traveller travelling back in time to punish the Birlings and make them realize the consequences of their actions.
The dialogue from the other characters also helps us to comprehend the role of Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls. I especially think this is achieved by Mrs. Birlings views on Eva Smith towards the end of the play, she thinks of Miss Smith a “an impertinent child” and apparently. “was giving herself ridiculous airs… that were simply absurd for a child in her position.” This signifies that Mrs. Birling does not think highly of the girl and bearing in mind the social and historical context of this play, written in 1946 and set in 1912,we know that there were very definite divisions between the upper, middle and working-class so Mrs. Birling obviously sees herself as superior to Eva, hence her uncaring manner. This leads me to believe that the inspector could just be a device to portray the view that all people deserve to be treated fairly and equally, regardless as to what social background they come from.
The Inspector’s actions are equally as important when trying to comprehend his function in the play. Throughout the play, the inspector constantly pauses and “looks at his watch” or “looks at the clock” as if keeping a very close eye on the time, he is also able to predict when Eric will return, he “checks his watch as the front doors slams shut”. Furthermore, when he is showing Mr. Birling a picture of Eva Smith, the others advance to see it but “the Inspector interposes himself between them and the photo.”
Not only are these actions unusual for a police inspector due to the abruptness and rudeness, but they are odd because of Inspector Goole’s limitless knowledge as to when and where people will be, what information they will possess, and his increasing hastiness towards the end of the play to leave the house. This designates the fact that the inspector could again be either a time-traveller come to teach the Birlings a lesson on selfishness and equality or Priestley himself portraying his message to the audience. I think this because out of the possibilities, in my opinion, these are the only two that could acquire, or already know such extensive knowledge about Eva Smith.
A further way in which Priestley helps us to understand the Inspector’s role in the play is through the Inspector’s own speech. When he first arrives at the Birlings house and throughout the rest of the play, Inspector Goole keeps referring to and describing Eva Smith’s death in a distasteful manner, “swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant,” “she was in great agony” “her position now is that she lies with a burnt-out inside on a slab.” I think this is to create an atmosphere of guilt for the Birlings in the hope that they might seriously consider what part they could have played in this tragedy. From these quotations, we gather that it is unlikely Inspector Goole is a real police inspector due to the gruesome repetition of how Eva Smith died and so, to me, this indicates that the Inspector could be a close relation of Eva’s returning to seek his revenge.
The questioning techniques used by Inspector Goole are also very important to help us understand his function in the play. He asks his questions very rapidly and directly, “Where did you meet?” “What happened then?” “Was she drunk too?” “But you took her home again?” These questions are pushing the story along and lead the characters into a “trap” so that they subconsciously confess to the Inspectors implications and confirm what he already knows.
Also, when the inspector is asked how he has acquired all this information and whether he has spoken to Eva Smith, he replies, “she told me nothing, I never spoke to her,” and this seems very odd considering he knows so much about her life. However, earlier on in the play, he says it was from reading Eva’s diary but it would have to have been in intricate detail. These two points give the impression that Inspector Goole maybe omnipotent, so personally, I think this shows that he could either be a time-traveller or Priestley himself trying to convey the message that our own actions may have an effect on those around us as well.