‘The Inspector merely functions as a mouthpiece for Priestley’s ideas’
What do you think the Inspector function is in the play and how does Priestly present him?
The Inspector is an enigmatic figure who acts as a catalyst which creates the possibility for the others to confess to their wrongdoings. The inspector takes his responsibilities seriously and acknowledges that it is his ‘duty to ask questions’ highlighting his intact character whilst the others break down.
The Inspector has several functions in the play; firstly he acts as a narrator which alludes to a metaphorical mirror of people’s superego. He is able to link the separate incidents into one coherent life story demonstrating how the play conforms to the Aristotle’s Three Unities form as the setting in Act Three is ‘exactly as at the end of Act Two’ these constants enable the contrasts between characters to be accentuated. Furthermore it allows Priestley to highlight a microcosm of the upper middle class society through the Inspector’s criticisms. The use of the imperative verb of ‘remember that’ holds a metaphorical mirror to convey the inescapability of their guilt. Moreover the use of the asyndetic listing of ‘we are members of one body. We are responsible for each other […] they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish’ highlights the biblical imagery alluding to hell. On the other hand it also alludes to the possibility of the world war, highlighting Priestley’s views and furthermore the semantic field of violence.
The inspector functions as a subjective perspective critique demonstrated through the expressionist form. The use of the second person pronoun of ‘you turned her away […] you refused her away […] you had in your power to grant her. Remember what you did-‘directs the guilt functioning as a metaphorical superego, by extension through the expressionist form, the Inspector is used as Priestley’s subjective perspective in order to criticise the Birling family and the abuse of...
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