In ‘An Inspector Calls’ Priestly uses his characters in his play to suggest different things to the audience and to display different views from within society. The time the play was set, the Edwardian period, society was unfair and morally wrong. The rich were treated with respect and the poor treated less than nothing, Priestly thought everyone should be treated equally and given equal respect. He used his play and the character of the inspector to portray his thoughts and feelings he had toward society. Priestly wanted to say that everyone should be responsible for each other; “we are members of one body”. This shows us that he used the voice of the inspector to say this to the people in the play and the people who are watching the play, he is an important character and his purpose is to teach the Birling’s a lesson; “if men will not learn that lesson they will be taught it in fire and blood and brimstone”. This shows us that he is referring to the war where everyone was taught that they had to look after each other, everyone was in the same awful situation and the audience would have been aware of this at the time.
Inspector Goole is an authoritive figure in the play, he acts equal to society and does not let the Birling’s win him over or push him down with their money, power or position; “How do you get on with our Chief Constable/I ought to warn you that he’s an old friend of mine,” this tells us that Mr Birling thinks he can manipulate the Inspector, but Inspector Goole, is in fact above it all and doesn’t care about the traditions of society. He interrupts the Birling’s evening, comes into their house and does not feel sorry for them in the slightest. He acts as an interrogator because that is exactly what he is. He has come to the house to find out exactly what happened to this young girl. The Inspectors name being ‘Goole’ suggests he is a ghost and not real, he is an outsider, not a part of society of any kind, as far as the Birling’s are concerned he is a hoax. This creates the character of the Inspector to become mysterious and leaves the audience guessing, is he a relative of Eva Smith? Is he a journalist? A voice from the future? These questions remain unanswered throughout the play, leaving the audience to decide for themselves. The appearance of the Inspector also demands a sense of mysteriousness and formality when he is shown wearing a dark formal suit. This also creates a solidity and purposefulness within the Inspector. The Inspector’s behaviour demands respect and he is calm and collected. He is also quite aggressive in his need for getting information out of the Birling’s; “Don’t stammer and yammer at me again mam. I’m losing all patience with you people.” This shows us he is more aggressive with the older generation because they know better, they should take responsibility for what they’ve done and he becomes angry because they don’t listen to him.
It is understood that the audience sees the Inspector as an outside voice and that he is the playwright, J.B Priestly, voicing the opinions of the person who wrote the play. Priestly was a socialist and the inspector says things that are socialist, meaning society should be held responsible for the tragedy and the welfare of others. Priestly is blaming society for what happened and what happens all the time to girls like Eva Smith. If there were Social Services, National Health Services when the play was set,