The Inspector Calls is what is identified as a social play, the basis for this was the fact that J. B Priestly was concerned about the social system, furthermore he observed the class situation at the time and used it to inspire his play. In the play the story is set in 1912, just before the First World War, however in actual fact he had written it in 1945, at the end of the Second World War. The main causes for this class division was that the rich took no responsibility for the poor and instead used them to make higher profits, whilst at the same time paid for cheap labour and selling at extremely high prices.
The inspector was deliberately positioned in the play to make people realise that if they didn’t change the class and social stature, they would eventually pay the consequences through war. “In fire, blood and anguish. ” Throughout the play, the Inspector is presented in many ways. This may depend on what he does, what he says, or the way he behaves to each person. He may be referred to as the social conscience, god, a time traveler, friend/ relative of Eva smith, or a ghost. These characteristics represent the many aspects of the Inspector. He is a mysterious character, which the audience is made aware of from the start.
Firstly, his name is ‘Goole,’ which sounds like ‘ghoul. ‘ This gives us the impression that he might be a ghost or spirit. He might seem to be the ‘social conscience’ of Gerald Croft and the Birlings, or he could possibly be ‘god. ‘ This is because Priestly describes his physical appearance as making an ‘impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. ‘ Inspector Goole’s way of speaking is strange too, ‘he speaks carefully, weightily and has the disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before speaking’. The Inspector looks sounds and behaves differently to a normal Inspector.
He may appear to be someone from the past or the future – a time traveler. This is because; it seems the Inspector knows quite a lot of personal details regarding Gerald and the Birlings. He even knows everything before anyone tells him. His special ability of piercing people with his hard stare is altogether very alarming and uncomfortable. Furthermore, we can conclude from his behavior and mysterious character, that he may be a close friend or relative of Eva Smith’s. This is significant as he knows personal and private information on Eva; every account of her life, her feelings and her situation.
The Inspector claims to have never have met her. However some of the reasons lead us to become suspicious; This is shown when he reveals Eva’s situation, ‘she wanted to end her life. She felt that she couldn’t go on any longer. ‘ This tells us that the Inspector is aware of a lot more than he is letting on. This suggests to the audience that the Inspector had known Eva Smith. J. B Priestley purposely put the Inspector in a position where he could question and interrogate everyone. This is because he had to use the Inspector to get the confessions out of Gerald and the Birlings, in order to move the play along.
He spoke to each of them in turn, but each of them was spoken to in a different manner from the first. The Inspector starts with Mr. Birling. He makes an entrance when Mr. Birling say’s ‘a man has to make his own way – look after himself – and his own family too… ‘ This is because he knows that Mr. Birling is wrong and that people’s selfishness could lead to big trouble. Mr. Birling had been the first to push Eva, to the point of suicide. He had sacked her as she was a ‘strike ring leader’ who had wanted higher payment. The Inspector behaves normally at first, i.
e. , ‘Do you remember her’ and ‘I think you remember Eva Smith now, don’t you Mr. Birling. ‘ No matter how hard Mr. Birling controls himself; the Inspector does seem to be aggravating him a lot, whilst asking questions. ‘Well, Inspector, I don’t see that it’s any of your concern… ‘ However, the Inspector finds the way to probe whilst Mr. Birling upholds his status. Next, he interviews Sheila Birling, who was second in line to push Eva to the path of suicide. Sheila had got Eva sacked from her happy job at Millwards because she was jealous of her and her beauty.
The Inspector makes Sheila realize how wrong she was to do that, which makes Sheila feel extremely guilty and repentant. This is partly through what he says to her and how that makes her feel. ‘Why did you do that? ‘ And, ‘How was it the girls fault? ‘ Sheila is shown a picture of Eva, but after; ‘She gives a half-stifle sob and runs out. ‘ When he interviews Gerald Croft, he refuses to acknowledge Eva Smith/ Daisy Renton. But we later find out that he had kept her as his mistress for 5 months, he had given her money and a place to live at his friend’s house.
The Inspector keeps Gerald going by interrupting him when he takes frequent pauses. ‘Come along Mr. Croft, what happened? ‘ This makes it seem that he is rather impatient towards him. Mrs. Birling, is a rather haughty person, and it don’t seem to her that the Inspector has any right to question her. Mrs. Birling finally gives in, when it is revealed that Eva Smith had come to her as Mrs. Birling – to seek help from her as she was unmarried and pregnant. Mrs. Birling used her position to get her claim refused. She also told her to… ‘Go and look for the father of the child.