The role of the Inspector as a catalyst is significant as he makes things happen and allows secrets to be revealed. He controls everyone and their actions in the enquiry. The inspector says to Gerald that he can’t see the photograph. He shows this photo only to Mr. Birling saying “it’s the way I like to work, one person and one line of enquiry at a time. Otherwise there is a muddle.” This shows that he controls everyone in the enquiry and all of their actions as well, despite the fact that the Birlings and the Crofts are of greater importance in the community and in the society. With each character he uncovers a whole new side to the character. The Inspectors also brings about emotional reactions in his role as a catalyst. He portrays this through Sheila when she says “you mustn’t build up a kind of wall between us and that girl. If you do the Inspector will just break it down.”
The Inspector also acts as a dramatic device. When the Inspector enters the stage, the stage directions say “light changes from a pink to a bright yellow”. This symbolises the change between the intimacies of the Birling family and then when the Inspector enters the harsh lighting fills the room with reality and it exposes the family to the audience more clearly. When the Inspector enters, Priestly portrays the Inspector’s role as the strongest and the most in control.
The way the inspector enters and jumps straight into the enquiry in a very professional manner shows us this. It is ironic that the Inspector arrives just after Mr. Birling says “so long as we behave ourselves and don’t get into a public scandal…” because after the inspector leaves Mr. Birling says “They just won’t try to see out position or to see the difference between a lot of stuff like this coming out in private and a downright public scandal. This is ironic because before the Inspector arrives they were talking about not getting in trouble and then a mysterious ‘Inspector’ arrives about the death of a young girl and a girl that they have found out that they have all taken part in the death of. Each in their own way, with no intention.
The inspector first enters the stage wearing “a plain suit of the period” in comparison to the Birlings who are dressed in “evening dresses of the period, the men in tails and white ties, not dinner jackets.” This shows us that the Birlings are very upper class and are dressed to celebrate whereas the Inspector is wearing very simple clothes symbolising that money doesn’t mean power but knowing how to hold yourself can mean power and respect will come your way. The way the Birlings are dressed symbolises they way they are out of touch with reality whereas the Inspector is dressed simply and more down to earth. He is also more aware of what is going on around him. With the simplicity it shows that most tings in life are simple unless you take them and change them into something more complicated.
The Inspectors entrance is significant because when he enters he brings the party and the celebration to an abrupt halt. “May not be a big man but he creates an impression of massiveness…” Priestly as used this to show the Birling family might be mighty and powerful but they can be overshadowed by smaller people smaller than them in the class system without even knowing it. This quote implies that the Inspector is a pushy man but only his presence is felt as big as he isn’t particularly large in any way he just fills the room with his presence.
The second exit and the entrance are equally important because whilst the Inspector is off stage it gives Sheila and Gerald a chance to talk. Whiles the inspector is absent from the stage Sheila adopts the role of the inspector and she interrogates Gerald using short, sharp, snappy questions such as” how did you come to know this girl…”. She says this to Gerald because he is her fiancï¿½ and she has just noticed that he had reacted oddly to the name Daisy Renton.
The inspector final exit is very dramatic as he leaves after a very long speech and all of the other characters on stage are left in shock and awe by his words. The Inspector uses very emotive language linking everyone to the one young girl who died: “but remember one Eva smith has gone – but there are millions and millions of Eva smiths and John smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and a chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we say and think and do.” This is a case of dramatic irony and the words the Inspector said came as a warning to the Birlings and Gerald. The inspector’s final exit was very dramatic and he left right at the point of climax leaving a lot of tension in the air. “He walks straight out, leaving them staring, subdued and wondering.”
This shows that the Birlings didn’t really no what to do with themselves after the speech because of all the powerful words that he spoke. All of the behaviour in the stage directions shows how the family are moving very lightly as not to spark conversation because of the awkwardness of the Inspectors speech. “Sheila is still quietly crying. Mrs Birling has collapsed into a chair. Eric is brooding desperately. Birling, the only active one, hears the front door slam, moves hesitantly towards the door, stops, looks gloomily at the other three, then pours himself put a drink, which he hastily swallows.” This shows that the family are all tip toeing around each other so they don’t have to face up to reality, but instead they can see a disaster that could have been stopped.
Priestly has used the Birlings to show how uppercases society was cruel. Priestly uses Eva smith to portray how a poor working class girl would be treated in society but he upper class. Priestly show the audience all the flaws in society in a very pronounced way and they become more pronounced as the play goes on. The Inspector starts the enquiry with small subtle questions but gradually puts more and more pressure on them to confess.
The Inspector blankly asks questions and then when his questions are questions he blankly refuses to answer those questions. “It’s my duty to ask questions.” As shown here in this quote. Sheila is put under pressure when the Inspector and Mr. Birling are talking about Eva Smith’s death. She doesn’t quite get the conversation and just says “what do u mean by saying that? You talk as if we were responsible-” this shows us that Sheila really didn’t realise that there was anything seriously wrong until the pressure was pout on by the Inspector making her feel as though she should confess to all of that she knew.
I believe that the Inspector makes the whole play work because if he wasn’t there then the enquiry wouldn’t be as effective. I think that Priestly created this character because the role of the Inspector is very unusual and isn’t really portrayed in many other plays in the sane mysterious way. The Inspector also keeps you guessing and you don’t know what is going to happen next. Priestly uses the Inspector as a device to reveal his own views about society and life in 1910.
He shows this by making the Inspector grow in authority when the other characters crumble. Priestly first presented the Inspector as an average person in a middle class, but by the end of the play he leaves with complete control and authority of the play and the situation in which the play portrays. I believe that priestly created a character like the Inspector to show us how society worked and about the way one person can help make a difference to peoples lives by just caring. The play also shows us that people in the higher classes not only saw themselves a s bigger and more important but they treated everyone in a way in which made them feel even more important.