At the end of the play, the audience are shocked and surprised that inspector Goole, who has acted professionally, so it seems, has turned out to be a fraud and a fake. Afterwards, the audience, I presume, becomes more confused and bewildered. The plan was a type of whos done it (by Agatha Christie) which progressively builds up and heightens the supernatural nature of the mystery surrounding the inspector.
However, the inspector has successfully made Sheila and Eric confessed their guilt and irresponsible behaviour towards Eva Smith yet the inspector leaves the audience guessing who actually is responsible for the death of Eva Smith, and the audience having learnt that the inspector is a fake, makes them more surprised at his professional manner and style of his interrogation and enquiries.
Initially, the role of the fake Inspector Goole, who visits the Birling family residence and to interrogate them about the supposed suicidal death of Eva Smith, tries to make the characters aware of the broader view of responsibility because before the entry of Inspector Goole in Act one, Mr Birling tells the two young lads Gerald and Eric that, A man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own¦
After the inspector has given his speech of Love, the three; Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald are adamant and refuse to accept any responsibility on their part, which contributed to the death of Eva Smith. Before the end of the play, Gerald Croft rings the infirmary to confirm the death of Eva Smith and the falsehood of his cocked up story of the death of a young woman now on a slab at the infirmary. Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald are in jubilant and triumphant mood that they have been vindicated that no girl has died and the infirmary hasnt had a suicide for months. Just then, the phone rings. This time, it is a real inspector who confirms that indeed a young girl has died drinking disinfectant and is on the way to the infirmary.
Then inspector wishes to visit the Birlings (second time round) for a fresh investigation. I therefore believe that this is proof of Priestleys use of time as element of his play. Now the audience are left in no doubt that the events of the play are going to start all over again because according to theory of nature of time, the cycle of identical lives will be repeated if people involved change nothing of significance.
J.B Priestley wants to convey a moral and social message that we all should think, feel and act like responsible people in the community helping one another. I believe that the sort of audience who went to the theatre in 1945 were, na¯¿½ve and ignorant but rich and powerful. Despite the ignorance of the audience, they were wealthy and powerful people of the society at that time after the Second World War. Therefore, they could easily identify with the Birlings. These people are selfish, uncompromising and thought of themselves and their families and disregarded the plight of the poor and disadvantaged members of society.
This is vividly in Mr Birlings advice to Eric and Gerald; ¦ but I care. I was almost certain for a knighthood in the next Honours List- Having identified themselves with the Birlings, I feel that the audience will feel guilty for being irresponsible and selfish towards the poor and disadvantaged in the society. Therefore I believe if injustice and inequality are allowed to flourish in the society, mistakes of the old generation will repeat itself in generations to come. The play encourages the audience to learn from the mistakes of the past and to recognize that selfish pursuit of riches and power can be destructive.
J.B Priestley encourages his modern audience to see that capitalism has many victims. He also makes them aware that our lives are linked and that our behaviour affects one another to see the need to create a better society. Nevertheless, the modern society reacts to the characters in the same way in the sense that the rich are becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer, due to the selfishness and inward looking of the wealthy and powerful over the less advantaged members of society.
I feel Priestleys use of surprise interrogations and inquiries do not work in modern times. This is because before an inspector of the police visits a residence to interrogate, he first makes himself known by producing his identity card. I believe the end is a surprise because after inspector Gooles speech, the real inspector of the police rings announcing the death of a girl who has drank a strong disinfectant and that the police inspector is on his way to ask questions. Despite the present of socio-political conditions, I believe Priestleys moral and social message is still relevant.
For instance, inequality and class systems are prevalent in modern societies. For example, the labour party which is socialist inclined seems to stress the idea of interdependent community but fail to practice what they preach. The original audience are different from the present day audience, whereas the audience in 1945 were aristocrats, wealthy and powerful, the present audience have different social status therefore I think one should expect diverse reactions. Thus, the play does not affect them in the same way. However, I feel that the play is still worth performing because modern audience are still committing the old mistakes that the original audience committed. Morden society is still irresponsible and class system is also operative. Again the elite and affluent exercise power over the less advantaged and the poor, and they are business conscious more than being charitable.
In this play, Priestley writes about social message, love and responsibility. Socially, the writer makes me feel and accept that people share a common humanity and that we are all interdependent. Again Priestleys writing about love through charity which is faked by Mrs Birling encourages me as an audience to express true love. I believe this play has encouraged me to look back to the mistake of our fore-fathers in all circumstances and live as a member of a community contributing and helping to build a society devoid of wickedness, irresponsibility and selfishness. In conclusion, I must admit I have been overwhelmed by Priestleys use of time as an element of his plays ( The dessert Highway-1944 and The Linder Tree-1945), to demonstrate how in general; the behaviour of each member of a community can affect others.