Discuss the function of the Inspector in An Inspector Calls
John Boynton Priestly in 1945 wrote the play ‘An Inspector Calls’ but
set it in 1912. This time difference creates a sense of dramatic irony
as the play was written after it was set. The audience would be aware
of the events which had taken place between 1912 and 1945, including
world war one and two which they would no doubt have experience first
‘An Inspector Calls’ was first performed in Russia, Moscow. This is
significant because of the Russian Revolution, which was a system of
collective social responsibility where the sate owned everything and
used the wealth to look after its citizens. As England was left
destroyed due to the world war, therefore there would have been very
few playhouses, so Russia had to be alternative for performing the
The play is set in three scenes. The entire play is set in the dining
room of Mr Birling’s house. In contrast this creates claustrophobia
and tension as the characters in the play feel as if they are trapped,
nowhere to go until the truth is revealed. Although the play is about
the death of a young girl called Eva Smith who has committed suicide.
Due to this mysterious death, the Birling family has a nasty surprise
waiting. The Birling’s are meant to have a high status in their
community and they all have done bad things, which has forced a young
woman to kill herself. In the play, it reveals what each of them did
which leads to Eva Smiths death. As the play concludes we find out
that, the inspector has been questioning the Birling family for moral
values and their sense of social responsibilities.
The inspector is not only a character in the play; he is a dramatic
device who has several essential functions. He helps create the
structure of the play, by asking questions on Eva smith. J.B Priestly
also uses the inspector to create mystery and makes the story
confusing at times. Furthermore, Priestly uses the inspector as a
dramatic and structural device to affect the audience and help move
the play along.
The inspector makes us aware of social divide as well as gender divide
through out the play. At first men have more power over the women.
However, as the play goes on the inspector changes all this, we start
to see that the women begin to speak back to the men. An example of
this is when Gerald speaks out to Sheila “no, no I didn’t mean it”
J.B Priestley uses dramatic techniques to create tension in the play.
A good example of this is during Birling's speech he says the Titanic
is, "absolutely unsinkable”. Also in the stage directions, it says
that it is a "sharp ring" and which makes Birling stop to listen. This
shows that at the stage there must be some importance because it
actually stops Birling talking, which creates even more tension.
Just from hearing the term ‘Inspector’, we instantly know that this
person is out to find the underlying cause of the...