Throughout the play Inspector Goole serves the purpose of creating tension and intrigue. For example, towards the end of Act One the inspector announces that Eva Smith changed her name to Daisy Renton. Gerald Croft is started and asks the inspector to repeat his self. The inspector reiterates his statement to which Gerald croft reacts by pouring his self a glass of port creating an uneasy atmosphere. The inspector and Eric now leave the vicinity of the stage leaving Shelia and Gerald alone in this tense atmosphere. The audience now is intrigued to know what Gerald has done. Gerald now tries to avoid the subject to which Shelia exclaims; ‘You not only knew her but you knew her very well. Otherwise you wouldn’t have looked so guilty about it.’
One of the most important functions Inspector Goole serves is to act as a vehicle for Priestley’s moral message; to teach the characters and audience that all our lives are linked. Like at the end of act two after Sybil Birling had been interrogated the inspector refuses to leave and Arthur comes to the conclusion that Eric is involved and proclaims; ‘Look Inspector, you’re not trying to tell us that – that my boy – is mixed up in this-?’ To which the inspector replies by saying sternly ‘If he is, then we know what to do, don’t we? Mrs Birling has just told us.’ His section of the play shows that, unbeknown to the family all their bad deeds are linked in the form of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton.
The inspector is used all the way through the play to encourage the characters and audience to learn from the mistakes of the past and change in order to achieve a better future. The best example of this function is in the inspector’s speech when he says ‘millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us their lives intertwined with our own. We are responsible for each other.’ This extract just shows that the inspector does not want this point going to be overlooked and therefore re-enforces this point as one of his last words.
I personally believe that Inspector Goole is successful in his five main functions. By the term functions I am referring to the main question asked which was ‘Why do you think he inspector has called?’ This can be demonstrated by the way the characters react after his departure. Arthur, Sybil and Gerald were not as affected whereas the inspector’s message has definitely sunk into the minds of Shelia and Eric.
It was not only the characters that J.B. Priestley wanted the inspector to have an affect on, but also the audience. I believe that the inspector was successful in this also. This is because whilst reading the play I felt the emotions running though the play and even the slight anxiety that I would be the next to be interrogated. It also made me consider if any of the things I have done have had a negative effect on the lives of others. So, that is why I think that is why the inspector has called and not only affected the lives of the characters but the lives of the audience also.
After Inspector Goole departs from the scene, Gerald returns with the news that the inspector was a hoax of some kind and there was no girl that died. Almost immediately, the phone rings and announces that a girl has just died and an inspector is about to call. I believe that after this news the Birling family and Gerald Croft now face a dilemma. Will they take the inspector’s advice or will they cover up their actions? This is a question left in the mind of the audience.