The character who has learnt the most from Inspector Goole’s presence in the play, is that of Sheila Birling. Sheila transforms within the plot, from her high-class, oblivious state of ignorance, into a wise young lady, with esteem and full opinions of her own. Through the Inspector’s deliverance she learns that the ways of her previous existence were totally wrong and that she can longer ignore those in need, but that she has to embrace her obligation in playing a much larger part in the active community of life. She becomes completely transformed and so, lets all the other characters know of her knew-found education:
“…I remember what he said, how he looked, and what he made me feel. Fire and blood and anguish” (Sheila Birling, Act three) Sheila shows that the Inspector has had such an effect on her life, that she will never be able to forget the way he made her feel. She is now aware of the truth behind the Capitalist society and thus, readily repents and admits her obvious fault in following the corrupt system. She is extremely remorseful and apologetic, as she now knows that the Society she so ignorantly thrived upon, is nothing but a discriminative weapon against equality and peace. Sheila is shown to no longer feel as part of the upper-class dominion, and in true rebellion of her Parent’s views, she partly takes over the Inspector’s role in educating, thus trying to show them of what they too must learn.
Through the Inspector’s continuous education of the Capitalist system and Sheila’s profound transformation through it, I think the audience will also be educated before they leave the Theatre. They will learn, just like Sheila did, that the Capitalist system is insincere and that it’s only aim is to give the ‘dishonest’ power over the poor. This moral will be learnt by an audience of today and was learnt in 1945, when the play was first performed; although the reactions from each era will have varied.
In 1945, the World War had just come to an end and the results of extreme Capital ignorance will have still been fresh within everyone’s minds, thus the Inspector’s message would have immediately been put in context. However, with an audience of today, a reaction and education still would have been obtained, but with much more of a moral emphasise than political, due to the lack of politicisation and the class denominations being less obvious within society. – Therefore, I think that the morals will still remain relevant, regardless of the period of time and the audiences listening to them, although their exact effect of education will differ slightly.
Conclusion – 1st Re-draft Overall, when stripped down to the basic elements of the play, Inspector Goole is nothing but a mere devise used to convey Priestley’s political opinion across to the audience. In every action he takes part in, this is reinforced, as he brings the refreshing contrast of socialism into the previous dominion of a Capitalist world. His character stands as a symbol for many different levels and fundamentally represents the hope of equality in a class-dominated society, thus conveyed through his four dramatic functions within the play.