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The Inspector Evaluation

  • Date Submitted: 04/04/2012 08:13 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 60.8 
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The Inspector-Evaluate
What is the role of the inspector? Critically review his role with regards to the moral impact of his visit.
The Inspector is an enigmatic figure. He neither changes nor develops, but frequently repeats: “I haven’t much time”, as if he is working to a pre-arranged schedule. Inspector Goole’s name is an obvious pun on ‘ghoul’, a malevolent spirit or ghost. He could be seen as some kind of spirit, sent on behalf of the dead girl to torment the consciences of the characters in the play, or as a sort of cosmic policeman conducting an inquiry as a preliminary to the Day of Judgement, or simply as a forewarning of things to come. Certainly it seems that Priestley did not want to promote a single interpretation of who the Inspector ‘really’ is. The character’s dramatic power lies in this. To have revealed his identity as a hoaxer or as some kind of ‘spirit’ would have spoilt the unresolved tension that is so effective at the end of the play.
The stage directions for the Inspector stress his purposefulness and deliberate manner of addressing people. There is an air of menace about him and, unlike all the other characters, he does not deviate from his moral position. He is single-minded in pursuing his chosen line of investigation. He alone is certain of his facts. These facts are questioned by other characters only after he has left.
Goole makes judgments about characters which they are unusual and inappropriate in a police inspector. He undermines their complacent assumption that they are respectable citizens. Each of them finds this a shattering experience. Those characters who resist telling the Inspector the truth suffer more than those who are more open. The Inspector says to Gerald, “ if you’re easy with me, I’m easy with you.” Notice that he makes no judgment upon Gerald, and deliberately tries to stop Sheila from blaming herself too much. However, he begins to lose patience for Mr.Birling. Mrs.Birling resists the truth the most, and the...

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