An Inspector Calls: The Inspector (Inspector
1 Inspector Goole has come to the Birling's and
Gerald as a police inspector who is going to
question about a young womans suicide.
1.1 The inspector interrupts the
1.2 The Inspector questions each of
the other characters in turn.
1.3 Inspector establishes that each
had an unwitting part in Eva
Smith's death, through either
cruelty or disregard for her
1.4 Inspector gradually takes more
control of the situation and has
little regard for social class or
1.5 Inspector is concerned
about honesty and
1.6 Inspector makes a
powerful speech about
our responsibility to each
other in the wider society.
2 Priestly uses the character of Inspector
Goole to present his ideas about the
need for a just society and a communal
sense of responsibility.
2.1 The Inspector also links all the
characters to the "chain of events"
that culminates in Eva Smith's
3 The Inspector is an imposing
figure who will dominate the
play and will achieve his aims.
3.1 He is a man of "massiveness, solidity and purposefulness"
3.1.1 Shows how the Inspector's physical
presence matches his identity
4 He likes to do things in an orderly
way. This allows Priestley to build the
play as a "chain of events"
4.1 "One person and one line of enquiry at a time. Otherwise, there's a muddle."
4.1.1 Indicates that all the Birlings and Gerald are involved in the inquiries.
5 The inspector has high moral standards,
revealing that the others characters have not.
5.1 "It's my duty to ask questions"
5.1.1 He takes his responsibilities seriously
6 The Inspector's distinctive and mysterious
presence sets him apart from the other
6.1 "He never seemed like an ordinary police inspector"
6.1.1 Suggests he was different in some way or
that he was somehow "extraordinary", more
7 Inspector's key character traits, in particular his single mindedness when questioning the
characters and ability to overrule them his power and magnetism, his oratory and the
way in which he affects Sheila and Eric so that they confront their actions.
7.1 Also consider his name, "Goole", a homophone for
"ghoul", suggesting a phantom and also a morbid
interest in death, reminding us that his concern is Eva
7.1.1 The inspector's origin is unknown. Remember that Gerald discovers
from a police sergeant that there is no inspector Goole on the force.
and this is confirmed by Mr Birling when he rings chief constable
18.104.22.168 The audience is, therefore, bound to ask
themselves: who or what is Inspector Goole?
8 Sharp ring of a front doorbell"
8.1 "massiveness, solidity and
purposefulness" (List of 3)
8.1.1 "Dressed in plain darkish suit"
22.214.171.124 "The inspector need not be a big
man but creatures impression of
massiveness", Suggests that he's
an important man and
something severe could happen.
9 Model answer: The inspector gives a blunt account of Eva Smith's
death by using harsh language in his depiction of her death. This is
evident in the quote "burnt her inside out" which contrasts violently
with the polite and playful atmosphere at the start of this act.
10 Priestley presents the Inspector and Mr Birling as opposites. When the Inspector enters, the stage directions tell us he creates "an impression of massiveness, solidity and
purposefulness". Priestley is telling us that the Inspector will almost certainly have an impact on future events, and from the outset the Inspector takes command of the
situation. He "has a disconcerting habit of looking hard" at someone before speaking, he takes his time and interrupts Mr Birling, "cutting through" his bluster.
11 When the inspector says, "But after all it's better to ask for the earth than to take
it", he is replying to Mr Birling's justification for sacking Eva Smith. The Inspector's
comments links closely to his monologue in the final act, in which he warns the
Birlings and Gerald of potential conflict to come if his message of responsibility to
others is ignored.