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"...He'S Giving Us The Rope- So That We'Ll Hang Ourselves." To What Extent Do You Agree With This Description Of The Role Of The Inspector?

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"...he's giving us the rope- so that we'll hang ourselves."

To what extent do you agree with this description of the role of the Inspector?

The quotation, "...he's giving us the rope to hang ourselves." I think means that the Inspector will allow the family to condemn themselves by criticizing each other, instead of staying together and supporting each other. In this way, the Inspector would be able to clinch information that otherwise he would not be able to get from normal methods of interrogation. It suggests that the Inspector sets the family members against each other by partially revealing some or just parts of information. The Inspector has two main techniques of questioning; he either sparks an argument in the family, and then just sits back and learns what he can, or he will pressure the suspect into confession by bombarding them with short, sharp questions. I think that Sheila, when she realises the questioning methods of the Inspector, tries to keep her family from falling apart due to misinformation or misconceptions of what is being said. She knows that the Inspector will use one member of the family to reveal some information, and then he would tell that to another member, who in turn would start an argument with the said someone. For example, at the beginning when the Inspector first arrives and starts to question Mr. Birling, the Inspector manage to portray Mr. Birling as cruel, as Sheila later calls it "...I think it was cruel and vile." (page 45).

From this quote I think that Sheila is aptly summarising the Inspector's method of questioning. By inserting 'samples' of information every so often, in order to encourage the subject to reveal more information than is necessary to answer the question, the Inspector conveys an aurora of intelligence, and perhaps omniscience. He is able to act almost like a phantom or maybe a God-like figure. The Inspector's name is Goole. It has the same pronunciation as 'ghoul'. It adds to the mystery and the fog of ignorance surrounding the Inspector and who he really is. Ghoul also describes his background, and the fact that Mr. Birling, who seems to know the Chief Constable, does not know him gives the feel of someone who really does not 'belong', as if he is from another time period. Ghoul is an addition to the words that have been brought up to sum up the general feeling of the Inspector; you know nothing about him, but he knows everything about you. Throughout the entire ordeal he remains passionate about his job, but at the same time stays objective and neutral. Except when he gets far too emotional and articulates that you must learn something from the trials and tribulations of life. I feel that the Inspector is human, but at the same time it is as if he has slipped through time; his judgements, and the way in which he orders, and shouts at people that are socially higher than him. A real Inspector would have more respect for a family such as the Birlings. Mr. Birling says that he knows the Inspector Chief. This can be interpreted as a very subtle threat. The Inspector would realise that Mr. Birling, as he felt it necessary, could tell the Chief Constable, and that could result in the sacking of the Inspector. But the Inspector pays no heed, to this warning and continues to treat the family with disrespect.

"(very sternly) Her position now is that she lies with a burnt-out inside on a slab. (As Birling tries to protest, turns on him.) Don't stammer and yammer at me again, man. I'm losing all patience with you people. What did he say?"

Here is an extract where the Inspector treats Birling with disrespect; it is near the beginning of Act 2:

Sheila: (urgently, cutting in) You mustn't try to build up a kind of wall between us and that girl. If you do then the Inspector will just break it down. And it'll be worse when he does.

Mrs Birling: I don't understand you. (To Inspector.) Do you?

Inspector: Yes. And she's right.

Mrs Birling: (haughtily) I beg your pardon!

Inspector: (very plainly) I said Yes-I do understand her. And she's right.

Mrs Birling: That, I consider to be a trifle impertinent, Inspector.

I think there is a possibility that the Inspector could be Eva Smith and just goes back to haunt them. This maybe quite far fetched but I would not rule it out completely, because if it were true then it would explain everything.

You feel that the Inspector knows everything already, and that by telling him, you are not giving information, but confessing to what you have done- which he already knows. This makes Sheila and Eric in particular give a lot more information than is necessary to the questions that the Inspector asks. The Inspector sets up a scene, and then inserts snippets of information that two parties will both be able to individually interpret, and will reveal more than necessary. The Inspector makes the information he gives ambiguous in order to draw the largest reaction. In this way, he is able to play off their response and extract more information from them. In some aspects, Inspector's character seems to be ahead of his time. The manner in which he conducts his questioning seems to be more advanced than the way in which they are received. Also the way in which he conducts himself gives the impression of being ahead of the family that he is questioning. He also has the sensibility of someone who lived during the 1945/46, after the wars. The Inspector does not 'fit' in with the way in which things where done during the time of this play. Priestley makes the Inspector seem ahead of his time, this way the Inspector has a further 'edge' against his subjects. This play is set before World War I, but the play is performed to the audience of 1945. Therefore the Inspector would be familiar to the audience, as he is from their time. But the way in which the Inspector acts would give a different impression on the audience. He gives the impression of knowing more than he actually does, which is the most important thing he does, as it makes the family and Gerald believe that he knows everything beforehand. That air of vagueness allows him to conceal how much information he actually knows; one might interpret that as not knowing as much as he seems to know, but at the same time he could know everything, and Sheila might have correctly interpreted



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