1.1 He is described on his entrance as "need not to be a big man but he creates at once an impression
of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness", meaning he has a large presence in the room.
1.2 His attitude confuses the Birlings, who are "bewildered"
as they aren't used to being treated like this.
1.3 He seems to know and understand an extraordinary amount: He knows the history of Eva
Smith and the Birlings' involvement in it, even though she died only hours ago. Sheila tells
Gerald, "Of course he knows." He knows things are going to happen - He says "I'm waiting... To
do my duty" just before Eric's return, as if he expected him to reappear at that exact moment.
1.4 He is described as "a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit of the period". He also "speaks
carefully, weightily, and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually
speaking". This shows he is an unassuming, yet frightfully sharp man who shouldn't be dealt with lightly.
1.5.1 Is the only character not affected by Eva's death.
1.5.2 Insists on characters hearing the stories of Eva from the others so they're more
likely to reveal theirs, this speeds up the investigation/reaction like a catalyst.
1.6 As he enters lights are made brighter, suggesting light represents truth and responsibility and he is bringing light into the
morally wrong darkness in which the Birling's live.
2 Priestley's use of The Inspector
2.1 Priestley shows his importance from the start: creating "an impression of
massiveness, solidity and purposefulness" as he is there with a purpose.
2.2 Priestley uses the Inspector as his mouthpiece to convey his Socialist and strong anti-capitalist views. He is a mysterious
figure for social justice who claims to represent the police. Further to this, the Inspector is also there to persuade the audience
that the pursuit of power and riches are destructive.
2.3 The precise nature of his character is left ambiguous by Priestly, and is interpreted in various ways.
2.4 The Inspector also transfers Priestley’s views and he shows the difference in social classes at the time. A gap which he wants to
diminish. He illustrates the reason for this in the play, via the Inspector, where he outlines the ways each of the Birlings have
influenced someone from a completely different background and social class. This is the way Priestley viewed pre-war England.
2.5 In his infamous final speech, he shows how the future of frightening with images of "fire and blood and anguish", which is widely considered
as Priestley reminding the audience of the two World Wars and Great Depression that had all taken place within 30 years before the play
being written. This knowledge of the wars also shows his omniscience and ability to prophesise the future.
2.6 Priestley gives the Inspector the role of being the Conscience of the play, stating "there are millions
and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us" and "we are all one body. The message
Priestley is trying to convey is clear, "We are all responsible for each other" (a key pillar of Socialism).
2.7 Priestley creates a cyclical structure in the novel as an Inspector calls at both the beginning and the end of novel.
3 The Birlings & Eva Smith/Daisy Renton
3.1 He works very systematically; he likes to deal with "One person and one line of inquiry at a time. Otherwise there's a muddle". His method is to
confront a suspect with a piece of information and then make them talk - or, as Sheila puts it, "he's giving us the rope - so that we'll hang ourselves".
3.1.1 Taking each character individually he, through his questions, gets them to confess their links with
the "dead girl". With Gerald we see how it makes him feel guilty that she loved him and Eric and
Sheila accept their responsibility: "I am ashamed".
3.2 He isn't impressed or intimidated by Birling's talk of "honours" and important friends,
speaking in short, matter-of-fact sentences: "quite so" and "(dryly) I don't play golf".
3.2.1 He doesn't talk to them like a normal policeman would to a family of their class but instead speaks his mind and is forceful
with them, especially by not giving into their demands to see the pictures as he insist on "one line of inquiry at a time" and
by giving gruesome details "burnt her insides out".
3.3 Towards the end of the play the audience is unsure if there was a policeman as Gerald decides it was "a hoax": "we've been had".
3.4 Instead of just trying to establish the facts of the case, the Inspector also adds his own opinions. Birling says women are asking for the
earth and he replies with "better to ask for the earth than to take it."
3.4.1 He says how "it's better to ask for the Earth than to take it", a mark that shows
how greedy the Birlings are, he is later branded a "Socialist crank" by Mr Birling.
3.5 He uses the Birlings words against them, when Mr Birling says that he has "made a nasty mess" of their celebration,
the Inspector replies with "a nasty mess somebody's made of it" referring to Eva's life.
3.5.1 Reminds audience and characters Eva Smith's terrible, slow, painful
death: "Burnt her insides out" as she killed herself. He also calls her a
"nasty mess"using sarcasm to highlight the Birlings' lack of concern.
3.5.2 He does this with Mrs Birling too for when she places blame that she will not accept on the baby's father
the Inspector turns this against her. He comments sarcastically when waiting for Eric's return "we know
what to do don't we, Mrs Birling's just told us."
3.6 He does not spare Sheila from the realities despite her youth but is much more tolerant of the younger generation
as they genuinely regret their actions, are more willing to take responsibility in the future and change their views.
3.6.1 This also contrasts with how Mr Birling wants to shield Sheila and her mother from the details simply
because they're women, Mr Birling sees them as inferior but the Inspector does not.
3.7 "we are all responsible for each other" "we are all part of one body" "millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths out there"
4 Power & Control
4.1 He is a figure of authority. He deals with each member of the family very firmly and several times
we see him "massively taking charge as disputes erupt between them." He is not impressed when
he hears about Mr Birling's influential friends and he cuts through Mrs Birling's obstructiveness.
4.1.1 He is physically imposing and does not allow the Birlings to use
their class or position of power to intimidate him.
4.2 Early stage directions make it clear this character will reveal truth, lighting
should be "brighter and harder". Throughout the play stage directions are
used to show his moral strengths as he "cuts"across Mr Birling.
4.3 He controls the photograph, showing each person separately.
4.4 Inspector Goole is known for “cutting through massively” which confirms he is very authoritative in
his speech and presence. The Inspector is offensive but fair; he doesn’t give people with higher status’
any advantages or treat them any different "(massively) Public men, Mr Birling, have responsibilities
as well as privileges”; he believes everyone is equal and society should aim to be like that.
4.5 After having already asserted his authority upon Mr Birling ("Don't stammer and yammer
at me, man. I'm losing all patience with you") and Mrs Birling ("(sternly) I warn you, you're
making it worse for yourself"), he settles an argument with Eric and Mr Birling: "I don't
want any of it from either of you. Settle it afterwards", clearly asserting his authority.
5.1 On a symbolic level the Inspector is perhaps not human at all; he could be some kind of ghost. His name
sounds like "spectre" and "ghoul" which suggests he is a ghostly being and possibly even the ghost of
5.2 Appears soon after Mr Birling's capitalist speech which shows no responsibility - the Inspector is summoned to
teach him a lesson.