“What did you say your name was, Inspector?” The Inspector wins back control, and treats Birling with little respect and speaks to him in a cocky and confident way. Birling reacts to this, as he doesn’t particularly like the Inspector’s tone. Birling rises to the Inspector’s inducement, and makes a fool of himself. Birling reacts to the Inspector in an impatient and intolerant way, the Inspector always remains having complete control over him, but unlike some of the other characters, the Inspector never warms to Birling because he sees that Birling will never change as he is a conceited man who is only concerned with preserving his position in society and hiding the scandal as not to disturb it.
He treats Sheila in a completely different way; he treats Sheila with more compassion as she later shows empathy for Eva. He manipulates Sheila by using her emotions. She opens up quickly and warms to the Inspector and tunes herself into the enquiry and helps him, almost turns against her family and helps the Inspector to retrieve information from her fiancï¿½ Gerald. The Inspector sees her as a girl who has been spoilt and damaged by being raised in a dutiful capitalist family. The Inspector doesn’t get the confession out of Gerald initially, Sheila does. The Inspector treats Gerald different to the others, he acts differently, he still speaks with authority but to Gerald he speaks in more of a gentle way because he knew that Eva Smith or Daisy Renton meant something to Gerald and he knew her more than the other members of the family.
“What’s the matter?” The Inspector is quite kind to Gerald, at first we think that Gerald responds to this and quite respects the Inspector. But after a while, we discover that while he was thinking things through, he was just thinking about how the Inspector was a fake and how the whole thing was a set up, Gerald is thought by the Inspector not to be as much to blame, but if the inspector knew what Gerald had said after he left and I think his perception of Gerald would have altered. Gerald fully agrees with the Birling parents, that it makes a great amount of difference that the Inspector wasn’t a real Inspector, he is alike Mr Birling and just wants to sustain his status in the upper classes.
“Everything’s all right now Sheila. What about this ring?” He is just carrying on as if he hadn’t just been found out to have an affair, and that the whole business was of no importance because it wasn’t a real police Inspector. Gerald obviously doesn’t react to the inspector and his business, as the Inspector thought he did. The Inspector treats Mrs. Birling very sternly and severely, as this is the only way he can get through to her. She reacts to this, as she also does not like the idea of an Inspector telling her family what to do and when, and bossing her around telling her what to do. The Inspector likes Mrs. Birling least, because she tipped this girl over the edge and shows no remorse, only shifts the blame. The Inspector is quite rude to Mrs Birling and doesn’t attempt to hide his feelings towards her.
“You have no hope of not discussing it Mrs. Birling.” He puts pressure on her to confess, she does so. She retorts to the Inspector by patronizing him and threatening him with her social rank. “You know very well why she wanted help” She is incredibly rude to the Inspector, as she can’t tolerate the fact that she and her family has been revealed to have been controlled by a middle class average man.
The Inspector treats Eric as older than his parents treat him. His parents patronize him and treat him as a child. The Inspector treats him as a man, and speaks quite coolly to him, as he does not react to the Inspector much. Eric only reacts to the Inspector politely and answers all of his questions truthfully and without difficulty. The Inspector reacts to this, and treats Eric quite respectfully; a mutual respect. Although the Inspector doesn’t absolve Eric for what he has done, he realizes that Eric will now mature and grow away from his parents.
The Inspector is intelligent, and treats them all as individuals, and handles each differently depending how they respond to his questioning. Each character reacts differently after the Inspector has left. Sheila is “still quietly crying” she is exhausted by the whole occurrence. She is distraught and is upset by what she herself did, and what her family did and their reactions to what they have done, which, led to Eva’s death. She is very distressed by her mother and father because of their reactions to the questioning of the Inspector’s identity.
“You began to learn something. And now you’ve stopped. You’re ready to go on in the same old way” She doesn’t care who the Inspector was, she has learnt from the experience, learnt her responsibilities and learnt to show compassion for others surrounding her, she has learnt the connotation of community. The Inspector has had a great impact on her. Mr Birling acts completely different to his daughter. He “pours himself out a drink, which he hastily swallows”.
He begins to blame Eric for the whole thing, and states he cares, but he continues and states” I was almost certain for a knighthood in the next Honours List-” As soon as the Inspector has left he is already back to the old Mr Birling, being selfish, thinking about the public scandal. He has learnt nothing from the whole experience. As soon there is a chance of an escape route for him in the form of the inquiring of the Inspector’s identity as well as the chance of Eva Smith’s identity, he quickly responds and forgets the whole thing and begins to celebrate and even imitates the Inspector’s final speech
” You all help to kill her (Pointing at Sheila and Eric, and laughing) And I wish you could have seen the look on your faces when he said that.” He is still a capitalist and a traditionalist and unfortunately this experience could not change him. Gerald enters later on in the scene, before he leaves he seems to be genuinely upset, but later when he uncovers the Inspector’s real identity and the truth about Eva Smith it seems like everything he started to discover he has just forgotten because the inspector wasn’t a real Inspector.
“Even then, that may have been all nonsense” He stared to change from being Gerald who agrees with Mr and Mrs Birling to someone who has his own opinions, but he changed back again, he sees it as now the circumstances have changed, things can now go back to normal. The Inspector thought Gerald changed but he was wrong. He thought he had had an impact on Gerald, he did for a while, but it got ruined in the probing of the identity of the Inspector. Eric reacted very similarly to his sister, He is “brooding desperately” he seems more outraged that distressed. He argues with his father and is in disbelief as his father rants about knighthood and Honour’s list, “Oh-for God’s sake! What does it matter now whether they give you a knighthood or not?”
He seems in shock but alike Shelia he realizes that they were lucky that it didn’t horribly end, but it might have done, he is in deep regret, but accepts the responsibilities that he holds for other people, he seems to have advanced away from his parents, this is what the Inspector has done, and he wasn’t even a real police Inspector. Mrs. Birling “has collapsed into a chair” she firstly shifts the blame to her son, like she did before; she is entertained by this fiasco, after she discovers the real character of the Inspector and of Eva Smith. “In the morning they’ll be as amused as we are”
She reacts very correspondingly to her husband. She is quite quiet after the Inspector has left, which suggests she is still shocked, probably at the fact that someone in a lower class to her and just tricked her whole family into giving him information, changed her two children and just found out that this man whose intelligence has out beaten hers, when she is so high in social rank. The Inspector’s impact on Mrs. Birling is quite small, as she has not changed in the slightest; she remains the same judgemental, materialistic, prejudice and arrogant person.
The Inspector’s final speech is enormously powerful; it is almost a political lecture. It has a great impact as a final speech, as that will be remembered by the family, that is how they will remember the Inspector, and they will never forget his words. It has great impact on all the family, even though some will not change. None of them interrupt, or even try, they all just listen. Parts of the speech are directed at certain people, emotive language is directed at Sheila as this will get through to her most, ” You can’t even say “I’m sorry Eva Smith”” The Inspector directs parts at Mr Birling so he can thoroughly understand them, “Then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish”.
As Mr Birling is scared of war, as it will do damage to his business the Inspector mentions it, to make Mr Birling remember the message. He directs parts at Eric also to make him listen, as Eric knows he has made a terrible mistake, he knew Eva Smith and he feels most of the guilt, “Well, Eva Smith’s gone. You can’t do her any more harm. And you can’t do her any good now, either” Eric fells he needs to make it up to her, but the inspector tells him he can’t, but if he changes he can help other “Eva Smiths and John Smiths”.
Mrs Birling “collapsed into a chair” so the speech must have had some affect on her. The Inspector, I believe doesn’t direct any part of the speech to her, she needs to listen to the whole thing and learn, but she doesn’t. The Inspector dislikes her the most and only one part of the speech wouldn’t change her; the whole thing didn’t. I think the Inspector directed his speech more at Sheila and Eric, as he knew they had a chance of changing, as they are “more impressionable” than the parents as they are stuck in their ways, and will never change.
The Inspector’s final speech is straight from J. B Priestley; it is a socialist speech and sums up the whole message of the play. The message to the audience that they should accept their responsibilities for other fellow human beings, equality for everyone, with equal opportunities and the helping, caring, sharing attitude that we all need to make a better world. The audience will listen to this especially as they have just seen two world wars, it will make them think about if the capitalist values and attitudes made the tragedy happen, the death of Eva Smith, world wars and any other unhappiness caused by people in the world. The message is still strong to this day, but it will have had more of an impact of that society. It will make them all think about themselves; that is what J. B Priestley wanted to happen.
” We’ don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other” This is what the characters in the play will take away from their experience; this is also what the audience will take away with them. Priestley created a controlling Inspector to convey his views. With a weak Inspector these views would not express his opinions successfully. I feel I have answered the question to the best of my ability, I have discussed the Inspector’s control in acts one and two, the use of dramatic irony in the play and how Priestley used the Inspector to air his views on society in 1912. I thoroughly agree with the theatre critic’s comment, I do believe that the Inspector directs and narrates the play.