The Inspector – Man or Metaphor

Constant failure to take offence to Birling’s ignorance is another mysterious air we notice in the Inspector. Birling is impatient with Goole and continually encourages him to get on his way. This is shown from the Inspector’s entrance to the end of the play. Mr. Birling shows initial courteousness, which he cannot keep up past appearances! An excellent example of this is after the inspector explains about the situation involving a girl’s suicide and Birling says “I don’t see why you should come here, Inspector” but the Inspector simply “cut[s] through, massively. ” The Inspector doesn’t even show annoyance. This is unnatural.

To Birling’s question, “You sure of your facts? ” Goole answers, “Some of them – yes. ” He cannot be EXACTLY sure because not all have happened yet; Eva Smith has not yet killed herself, it would seem. This portrays a weird idea, the Inspector would not know too much information that is why he should be questioning the Birling’s and isn’t a fact a fact; Goole would have to be sure of them if he was to call them facts. We recognise that the Inspector’s name, “Goole” has other meanings. It suggests that he is a ghoul or a ghost. Thinking into more depth it connects Goole with a spirit and backs up his unusual behaviour.

The Inspector seems to be far more concerned with moral law then criminal law. This is demonstrated towards the end of the play when members of the family are discussing what will happen to them or justice and the Inspector changes the conversation topic twice back to “I don’t think any of you will forget. ” He seems more interested in making an impression on the family then what will happen to them next. In a real situation wouldn’t the police officer tell the Birling’s what is to occur ahead? When Inspector Goole says, “Some things are left to me, inquiries of this sort for instance.

” It can be interpreted that the Inspector has categorised the inspection already. He has anticipated everything about it. Also, he commented that he “wouldn’t know where to draw the line” between “respectable citizens” and criminals. What does he know already? The Inspector may be able to see into the future. This might be a reason why the Inspector could be other than human. In books and stories children and animals are meant to be the ones who realize when something isn’t quite right or is supernatural. Sheila, despite being a young woman has been treated like a little girl.

Mr and Mrs Birling try to protect her from the outside world but she is about to get married and being narrow minded they seem to not grasp that she is no longer a child. Sheila is the only person who feels something strange about the Inspector. She is the first person to detect that the Inspector already knows about Sheila being the cause of Eva Smith being fired from her job. The Inspector makes the family feel guilty but only the younger generation becomes effected. The Inspector gets straight answers out of Sheila who confesses everything immediately; he does this by using her answer to ask the next question.

Goole relates how Sheila feels into his questions as well. A good example is “you used the power you had,” in this extract the Inspector takes away her opinion of importance and decreases her to an “average” person. Mrs Birling notices how much of an “impression” Inspector Goole has made on Sheila. He replies that they “often do make an impression on the young ones” but it appears that after all incidents are out in the open that the youngest generation are the most mature. They are the only people that realize and regret their mistakes.

Shortly after Goole finished questioning Sheila the hard-hitting effect of him rubbed of onto her and she began taking the role of the Inspector around Gerald. Sheila realises the Inspectors power and then says, “he knows. And I hate to think how much he knows that we don’t know yet. You’ll see. You’ll see. This is an incredibly important section as it really makes the audience question who or what the Inspector is. Immediately after this the Inspector opens the door. As his timing is so precise we assume he was listening to the conversation or possibly having knowledge of the discussion anyway!

Sheila continuously warns various members of her family to watch what they say. Another vital scene is when Sheila is “staring at him, wonderingly. ” This part is when she really understands about the Inspector. She has detected his mysteriousness. The Inspector claims that there is “no reason why” she should “understand about” him. Does that mean it is impossible for her to grasp his meaning or importance? After this quiet moment Sheila becomes almost hysterical around anyone that has not yet been questioned due to her learning of Goole. It also appears that he comprehends her. It seems to be a mutual agreement.

Sheila is the only one to realise that hiding things from the Inspector will only make things worse. She becomes shocked when her mother does just that. The Inspector is extremely severe with Mrs Birling due to her being so stubborn. Those who resist like Mrs Birling will suffer more in the end. The inspector feels that there is an urgency to “get on” with the visit. His statement that he hasn’t “much time” shortly follows this remark. If he were a real police officer he would take as much time as was needed. It is as if he needs to finish before the moment at which Eva will decide whether or not to end her life.

After Goole has finished with the Birlings and Gerald he says “I don’t need to know anymore. Neither do you. ” This comment implies that this visit was far more significant with moralistic values and justice then the consequence. The Inspector meant it to be effective. Goole’s final speech has nothing to do with criminal law, but is a lecture on social responsibility and the perils of ignoring it. It is prophetic. Priestley intended the lecture to be a message to the group and made it appear more significant with short bursts of phrases around it. The Inspector has drained power from the characters and has taken the lead.

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