I will be talking about the significance of Inspector Goole and how Priestley uses him as a main mouthpiece.
(ACT 1) During Act One, Priestley uses Inspector Goole as a mouthpiece to show the mindset of the newer generations. Inspector Goole delivers his first message stating how “after all it’s better to ask for the earth than to take It.” which largely ties in with Priestley’s message throughout the play. People often see the “world” as a very vast thing, implying that Mr. Birling believes that Eva is asking for something that is way too extreme for someone of her class. This relates to the theme of class and how people had different mindsets of statuses back when the play was written in 1945. Back then lower class individuals weren’t in the position to ask for things. Conjointly, when Inspector Goole declares “than to take it”, demonstrating to the audience that he knows more than he is saying foreshadowing what happens later on in the play, such as the repeated comparison of the two classes. Priestley looked at situations from a socialist point of view and Inspector Goole defending Eva proves this to the audience and can cause them to start additionally viewing situations in that manner too. Inspector Goole is significant in portraying Priestley’s ideal that everyone should take social responsibility for each other, because in 1912 the majority of individuals were authenticating capitalism and anyone antagonistic towards this was looked at as dissimilar to everyone else. This then manifests how bold his actions actually were.
(ACT 1) Inspector Goole’s character is made significant because he has a certain tactic to get everyone to confess. “One person and one line of enquiry at a time.” We can see from this that Inspector Goole is ordering them to listen to him, to show that he is in charge and gives him power over them. Priestley uses Irony in the form that Inspector Goole may be from a lower class, but he still has power over the Birling family (who are seen to be from a higher class); therefore contradicting the class systems at the time. The use of the word “enquiry” could be linked to the statement “enquiry is power”, which allows the audience to further explore the idea that the inspector has power. This then links to the theme ‘social change’ as it shows us that Priestley as a member of society has the idea of people from a lower class being under people from a higher class, in any way is no longer there. It conveys to the audience that we are all one community, and there’s no such thing as one individual being in any way lower than another; his intentions then demonstrating to us that we must socially change.
(ACT 2) Adding on to that, Inspector Goole uses guilt as a way to get the family members to confess. “Then the next time you imagine it, just remember that this girl was going to have a child.” When he says “going to have a child” he tries to make the characters acknowledge and apprehend what they have done and to try and remind them that because of their selfish actions two lives have been lost not just one. Also, he tries to put Sybil and Arthur in Eva Smiths shoes because they know how difficult it is to raise a child. As for everyone else, he wanted them to comprehend how it is easier said than done to raise a child. This then interfaces with the theme ‘responsibility’ and how the inspector wanted them to realize that their actions altered the life of another human being in a negative way, causing the audience to feel a sense of remorse towards Eva Smith and make them think twice when they do something to someone. That was Priestley’s intention. The fact that the inspector can have such an emotional impact that allowed them to reflect is quite significant. I see it in the way that when the term “girl” is mentioned it could reveal that Inspector Goole was trying to emphasize how Eva was still young and had a whole life to live and they were the reason that she couldn’t live her life; to make them feel that extra bit guilty and sympathetic.
(ACT 2) Furthermore, Inspector Goole foreshadows what will happen next in the play. “I warn you, you’re making it worse for yourself” The term “warn” proves that he is warning them for a reason foreshadowing the real inspector who will be on his way. Additionally, the word “warn” hints that there is a possible danger that will materialize. Likewise, the term “worse” conveys that the situation they are in is already undesirable, however it will be “worse” if they continue to do what they’re doing. This then links to the theme ‘responsibility’ and how Inspector Goole is ‘warning’ them to take responsibility for their actions or they will face terrible consequences. Therefore, presenting Priestley’s intentions on making the audience realize that actions have consequences. Making the audience feel a sense of guilt. This then makes Inspector Goole significant in the sense that his words can affect the audience as well as the characters.
(ACT 3) Also, Inspector Goole announces specific things that foreshadows the near future. “And my trouble is – that I haven’t much time.” The phrase “trouble” proves that there will be issues if they don’t move things along quickly. “My” manifests that HE is doing something insubstantial and shouldn’t be in that specific place. This phrase also foreshadows the fact that the real inspector will soon call making the audience a shred suspicious. Inspector Goole feels responsible to state his crucial point before the real inspector comes, associating to the theme ‘responsibility’ and socialism because he tries to help and warn them and not just leave as a capitalist would do. This proving Priestley’s intentions on showing his socialist point of view to the audience and how we should help each other; making the audience feel responsible too. This is why he is significant.
(ACT 3) Towards the end of the play, Inspector Goole delivers his most powerful and significant speech which states “that the time will soon come when if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.” The phrase “The time will soon come” implies that Inspector Goole did what he did for a reason. Priestley uses this to foreshadow the real inspector’s arrival. The use of the word “men” indicates that Priestly wants everyone from the audience to take away the message of the play, not just the Birling’s and that is what they learn. In my opinion when “men” is used this just conveys to the audience how people in 1912 viewed gender roles and that men were more significant than women in general, even to the point where the word “men” is used to represent society as a whole. Additionally, Priestley uses the word “taught” to convey the essence of school and how everyone can still learn, regardless of their age. “Fire and blood and anguish” is used as vivid imagery which Priestley uses to impact the audience, which then relates to the theme of ‘responsibility’ and the serious consequences that we all have to deal with if we do not learn from our mistakes. The term “fire” can also indicate the terrible tragedies that take place when it is involved into situations, such as death and punishment of being burned or scarred for life; both physically and mentally. Which can then relate to the characters being scarred for life if they do not watch their actions in front of the real inspector. This proving the inspector is there to warn them before these terrible tragedies indeed occur. Furthermore, “blood” is a red fluid and red is frequently used as a symbol of danger, which could signify that danger is heading in their direction. Likewise, “blood” illustrates the image of life in general and could mean their lives will no longer be as easy as it once was. It can also be associated with human sacrifice and how Eva Smith was sacrificed in result of their actions and now they will be the ones to pay the price.