Inspector Goole Cheat Sheet: Quotes + Notes
A character with 'massiveness, solidity and purposefulness'.
Inspector Goole is central to this play. But before we can understand his key quotes, we must understand his character.
1/4: Inspector Goole Character Notes
The Inspector is in his fifties, dressed in a plain dark suit.
Therefore, he initially seems to be an ordinary Brumley police inspector yet he is eventually something more ominous, perhaps even supernatural. JB Priestly writes that The Inspector "need not be a big man, but he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness". Despite this description, the precise nature of his character is left ambiguous by Priestly, and it can be interpreted in various ways.
Furthermore, Inspector Goole questions every Birling member, from the older generation of Mr Birling to the youngest character of Sheila Birling, as well as Gerald Croft.
Throughout these interrogations, Priestley describes the Inspector as speaking "carefully (and) weightily" with "a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before he speaks".
With Sheila, the Inspector knows that she feels guilty, he leaves her admit herself that she cannot bare to be responsible for the girl's death. She is struck by the truth of what the Inspector says, showing that he is a powerful, manipulative and interesting character.
Now that we have understood his character, we will be able to better understand the context of his key quotes.
Before we can fully understand these quotes, we must briefly analyse his character development and find how Priestley develops his character. But to achieve Grade 9, there is an Inspector Calls text guide by CGP with 100x more detailed notes.
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2/4: Priestley's Message (intended affect on the audience)
- He is Priestley’s voice – he represents Priestley's strong moral views. His job is to make the characters change their attitudes, face up to what they have done and start taking responsibility for each other – see his final message in the play.
- He heightens drama – his entrances and exits are well timed in order to create maximum tension (e.g. at the end of Act 1 when he walks in on Gerald and Sheila’s conversation).
- He controls the structure of the play – each revelation moves the play one step forward.
And in terms of character development, Priestley's message is that the Inspector has already found his morals. Goole is one of the only characters that does not change as the play progresses. He always remains assertive throughout the play. However, he seems to gain more control over the characters as the play progresses.
3/4: Inspector Goole: Quote Bank
His key quotes. After reading these quotes, scroll down for (very) important quote analysis.
Finally, now that we have read Goole's key quotes, we will analyse the most important of these.
4/4: Inspector Goole: Important Quotes - Analysis
Now that we have seen his quotes above, it is necessary to understand what these quotes mean.
- He arrives at a critical time – to interrupt Mr Birling and his selfish views: ‘a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own – and – We hear the sharp ring of a front doorbell.’ The Inspector’s role is to show that this is not the case.
- The Inspector uses the pronoun 'we' wheras Mr Birling and Mrs Birling use 'I'. Priestley creates a division between the Birlings selfish desires and Priestley's own message of collective responsibility.
- He is described in the stage directions as giving ‘an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’. He takes charge immediately from Mr Birling and remains in control throughout. Mr Birling attempts to regain control, but fails as the Inspector quickly regains his control (The Inspector interrupts Birling ‘cutting through, massively’). Goole remains solid as each of them breaks down and nothing distracts him from his purpose.
- He is clearly there to challenge and investigate. He has a habit of ‘looking hard’ at the person he is interrogating before starting to speak. This unnerves the characters.
- He directs the investigation carefully, dealing with ‘one line of enquiry at a time’. Therefore, he is controlling the structure of the play.
- He is a teacher – to teach each character (and the audience) of the importance of social responsibility.
- Goole might have made a reference to the Bible in his statement "We are members of one body". His assertion suggests a moral character, with Biblical characteristics of compassion and love.
- He uses aggressive, shocking language to make the characters feel guilty for the part they played in Eva Smith’s death: ‘she died in misery and agony’
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