Analysis Of Inspector Goole’s Character In An Inspector Calls

J.B Priestly, who wrote ‘An inspector Calls’ in 1946 just after the Second World War, was the author. It centers on the mysterious inspector’s visit at the Birling home. Priestley uses Inspector Goole’s character to portray a figure that is ‘god-like’ and can be his mouthpiece. He is a omniscient, authoritative character that heightens drama and brings important moral issues to the attention of both the characters as well as the audience.

Goole is a complicated character that can be contradictory. His personality includes aggression, calmness, anger, calmness, assertiveness, secretiveness, calmness, calmness, and aggression. Birling gives a speech at the start of Act 1 celebrating the marriage of his daughter and discussing his attitude towards responsibility. Soon after, Birling is interrupted with ‘the sharp-ringing of the front doorbell.’ Priestley used this adjective in his stage directions because it suggests that Birling’s monologue has been cut by the Inspector’s entrance and that it makes the characters pay more attention. The atmosphere also shifts. It has made the previously friendly atmosphere more tense. This is due to a change of lighting from “pink-and-intimate” to “brighter & harder”. One could argue that the inspector disrupts the cozy, safe atmosphere of Birlings celebrations and exposes the family to the realities of life. The inspector’s first line is clear. Prior to that, Prestley shows the Birling and the Inspector as opposites. The stage directions inform us that the inspector creates a ‘presence of massiveness, stability, and purposefulness’ upon his arrival. The inspector maintains his composure, even as characters around him explode. Birling’s many attempts at provocations have shown that the inspector is composed and stays focused. He is able to ignore their threats without getting flustered and he remains indefensible. He is known for his disconcerting habit to look at someone before speaking. This shows the inspector’s determination and power, as well as his refusal to let their social classes intimidate him. Birling, however, is condescending towards the Inspector and displays an increasing amount of ‘impatience. When he realizes that the Inspector will not be diverted, Birling turns to terrorizing him. He is the stereotypical representation of an arrogant materialistic capitalist. Priestly is trying to make capitalists’ ignorance clear through dramatic irony. Priestley invites the audience to consider the differences between Birling’s views and the socialist, responsible attitude of the inspector.

Priestley’s voice is represented by the inspector, who acts as Priestley’s mouthpiece for strong socialist views. He questions characters and the public about how they treat the working-class. In particular, he is an example of morality. This metaphor emphasizes the importance of equality and socialism. This message is universal and accessible to everyone. The use of the pronoun “we” proves this. It is addressed both at the characters as well as the current audience. The inspector is an infallible presence. This gives him a Godly or moral power that puts his views above all others. Priestley named the inspector ‘Goole’ in an intentional homophone for the word ‘ghoul. This suggests that he is both an evil spirit or ghost and has a morbid concern about death. We are reminded that his concern was Eva Smith’s demise. Priestley wanted to center the play’s plot around Eva Smith, a lower-class character. This was to show how vulnerable the working class were during Edwardian times. It also highlighted how socially acceptable it was for them to be treated badly. In 1920’s America, there was strong differentiation between upper and lower classes. Upper-class members of the Birling’s did not realize that their peaceful existences depended upon the hardwork of those below them, such as Eva. Further, the origins and history of the Inspector are unknown. Characters spend the last scene trying to figure out his story, while Mr Birling denies that he is a hoax’. Priestley intends Priestley to present the inspector in such an approach that it does not penalize Eva Smith for his actions, but rather to force all characters to repent of them and warn them what the consequences will be.

The inspector’s closing speech, “If the men will not learn that lessons, then they shall be taught in blood and fire and anguish,” shows the most obvious aspect of his thinking. This thought has evolved throughout the play. The inspector believes strongly in equality and socialism among all classes. He believes that all people have a responsibility to look after each other. Therefore, he recommends that the lower and upper classes come together. They are being ruled by him and his third-person speaking is another sign of his dominance. He is clearly focusing on himself, proving that he has complete control of the situation. The powerful image of conflict is represented by the metaphor “fire, blood, anguish”. These words bring to mind hell, bloodshed, and sadness at the loss of life. The audience would believe that the play is set in 1912. The predictions were intended to give the audience a glimpse into the character’s personality. Birling would be seen by the audience as someone who isn’t trustworthy. The predictions of the Inspector chill the audience, making them realize that the lesson he teaches has been repeated twice through blood, fire, and anguish. The horrors that war brought upon the people of the audience were well-known and not a pleasant experience. Priestley just asked the inspector to reveal the future for the Birlings if the audience doesn’t change their outlook on life. Goole teaches audience how to accept responsibility and ignore others.

J.B. Priestly wrote An Inspector Calls’ in an attempt to get people to see that there must be change and that all people deserve equal treatment. To show how upper-class people looked down on others in society, he used Mr Birling as his character. Priestley was concerned over the consequences of Britain’s social inequalities and the class and wealth divides. This was what Priestley believed resulted in the same characteristics as Mr Birling. Priestley uses Inspector Goole as his voice. He is a strong socialist believer. His role is to help the characters reflect on their past actions and change their attitude. As the Inspector controls the structure, each revelation propels the play forward. He acts as the medium between the characters and the play. Without his intervention, none would be revealed.


  • davidwong

    David Wong is a 29-year-old educator and blogger who focuses on helping students learn in creative and interesting ways. He has a background in teaching and has been blogging since 2006. David's work has been featured on a variety of websites, including Lifehack, Dumb Little Man, and The Huffington Post.