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Mr. Birling and Inspector Goole as Polar Opposites in an Inspector Calls

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J. B. Priestley represented a huge conflicts between representer of democracy and self-regulated in capitalism, when another one follows communistic ideas. One of his best known plays, ‘An Inspector Calls’ was written by British playwright John Priestley, in 1945, after the Second World War. Nevertheless, the play is a three-act grammar, the main actions which took place in 1912, before the outbreak of the First World War. A time when Great Britain was run by male capitalists. Priestley promotes his conviction about social justice and equality of rights owing to the fact that he was one of the active socialists. Author presented Mr Birling as a serious hard-headed businessman in contrast Inspector Goole as a stubborn socialist, who is always staying in his point.

In this dramatic play the author uses different structure elements in order to help the audience to make readable comparison between Mr Birling and Inspector Goole. This emotional play opens with the moment in which Mr Birling is spending time with his family, then he is lecturing everyone on what the future holds and how everyone should treat each other. Arthur’s speeches perform materialistic character and according to his speech, the audience can make a clear understanding, that he is a hero, who isn’t trustworthy, it prows with such his phrases: “…perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together.” and “I’m delighted about this engagement and I hope it won’t be too long before you’re married” from these two quatations audience can understand that this character is illusory and has a fake guise on his face, which covers behind all truth. He wanted to make more profit from this marriage and despite all these circumstances, which took place later in the play, Birling still wanted their engagement, as this is a behoof for his business. In the following dialogues we consider unexpectable Inspector Goole’s arrivement. He is shown as equitable and persistent person, who has sought the truth, because it is his work “It’s my duty to ask questions”. Author distinguishes this difference through timing in this play, as seen when Mr.Birling’s capitalist speech is disturbed by the doorbell due to the entry of the Inspector, which makes the audience question why the Inspector’s entrance is so abruptly and the audience is made to perceive that the Inspector will be exposing Mr.Birling’s false pretenses of being a “practical’ man. Birling’s happy celebration is over and the respectability of the family is going to be stripped away.

To begin with, in this play Priestley presents two main heroes with opposite overview. Mr Birling as an unintelligent person as a symbol of capitalism, he was shown as a rebellious and unyielding character. Such people as Mr Birling does not have respect for others, who care only about their social status, position in society and what the press will say about him. Money for this character – driving force. If he and his family are such people, could Inspector change them?

In contrast, Inspector Goole sheds light on all the concerns that Priestley had at the time of writing his dramatic play – around age, gender, class and social responsibility. Although, Goole was represented as social-climber and fighter for justice against lies. The Inspector in this play represents Priestley’s voice, his mind, his thoughts and ideas.His concept to influence an audience, change their treatment of the working class. Gool is the driving force of the play because he is the only person who also the questions and knows all the answers.

Priestley as dramatist uses different language to make a dialogue realistic at times emotive. Firstly, concerning Mr Birling’s speech emphasises such moment which shows materialistic character and wishes to earn more “a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own” this example makes clear conception to audience that he cares only about his statues and does not think about what people surround him say. In audience mind build up reasonable and superciliousness thought that Arthur is arrogance and egoistic man. In opposite way – Inspector Goole, who accentuates on another strong opinion, such as “We don’t live alone. We are members of one body” this Goole’s phrase means that all people depend on each other especially when somebody needs help and humans can not even notice how quite simply have an obligation to one another.

Secondly, Mr Birling in his words uses such stylistic devices as simile, for example “… if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive – community and all that nonsense” Artur Birling compares people with bees means. It means that family with his money everything, people in the upper class of society do not worry him and all these manners proves audience that he is real representer of capitalism. On the other hand Inspector represents himself from a completely different perspective, for instance “millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives” he uses repetition to show that huge crowd of people will still be more powerful and stronger than Mr Birling. These two different phrases from Mr Birling’s and Goole’s speeches are the evidence for audience to emphasise the dissemblance between socialism and capitalism.

Additionally, the audience can notice change of behavior and deportment throughout the play. Mr Birling represents himself as contemptuous person that knows how to stand firmly on his foot, until he transforms into a sort of scared, pavid and tries to avoid further conversation with the inspector in order to keep away all veracity from his family. Birling’s conversation with the inspector, Arthur solicits to leave his daughter to Shila. At the same time, the Inspector is also confident in his words, the firmness of his character and his intention to bring all those who involved into the death of the girl to light. Both main characters are similar in this feature.

In conclusion, dramatist author wanted to convey the idea of kindness, humanity in society, mutual assistance and compassion are the main factors. Joseph Priestley has already assured that the audience will aspect Birling’s ideas and opinions with considerable skepticism. 

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Mr. Birling And Inspector Goole As Polar Opposites In An Inspector Calls. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 28, 2021, from
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