Gerald is quite an important character. He asked questions, which link characters into each other. He was the one who finally thought that the inspector could be a hoax. “There wasn’t such an inspector….. We’ve been had”. We found out he was engaged to Sheila. I know why Mr. Birling wanted them to get married so desperately, it was so he can expand his business with Gerald’s father. We find out that occasionally, Gerald goes to the theatre. During one performance he went to the palace bar (a bar where prostitutes were). Gerald seemed to be a mature young man, and didn’t behave childishly.
Eric is the youngest family member. He seems to be most connected with his father. He could have the better relationship with his father because he’s a male (like his father), or if he prefers him for another reason. He plays along all the way until he found out he was going to be interviewed, possibly to try and get the blame taken away from him, but he asks to leave. He returns at the beginning of act 3, where the atmosphere is shocked. The fist think he says is “You know don’t you?”, to which the inspector replies “Yes, we know”. We find out that Eva wasn’t lying about being Mrs. Birling, because she got married to Eric. After his interview he thinks the inspector is real, “He was our police inspector alright”, but then he tries to get out of getting punished by convincing everyone that Gerald’s theory, of the inspector being a hoax, was correct.
Sheila seems a bit of a jealous girl, because Eva was laughing nearby to her and so she got her fired. She was hurt when she found out Gerald cheated on her, but they didn’t lose their friendship over it, which shows they aren’t immature and shows that they have a strong relationship. She did feel guilty for her part in Eva’s story. All the characters changed at least a little bit and felt guilty, but when they found out the police inspector wasn’t at all a police inspector, they forgot about what they had done and started getting quite big – headed.
Inspector Goole could be a ghost. This clue is given in his name. If he was a ghost it would explain why he was calm and why he didn’t want a fight to start, but I think this isn’t the most likely answer. I think he posed as a police inspector, but really he was the person who led Eva to kill herself. If this is right it would explain why he knew that the Birlings and Gerald had something to do with it all, because Eva could have told him all about this. He was possibly the reason Eva killed herself, he could have provoked her to kill herself, but he wants to blame it on someone else, so he uses the Birling’s as a cover – up. Maybe the reason we don’t find out about the second inspector, because Priestley left this out so he could write s equal if he wanted to.
In the inspectors speech he says that they were mean on one person, but there are many people like this in the world. There are many people who take things out on others for no reason (like the Birlings) and there are many ‘Eva Smith’s’ out there, and that we should set an example and stop making mountains out of mole hills like the Birlings did in the play. The inspector is the centre of the play. Without him the story – line couldn’t move on or slow down. In this way he is used a dramatic device, like his photo of Eva.
Rather than keeping the play stood in one place he moves it on and uses the photo to make the audience think, and to keep them interested. Everyone thinks that once he leaves the play is over, but it isn’t and the audience are shocked when Gerald swings the door open and mentions that it could be a hoax. They keep this idea in their heads as they walk out, and they think about who the inspector could have been and what happened next.