In An Inspector Calls, why is the ending important in the play?
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What is important about the ending is that, after the Inspector leaves the play, the characters very quickly show that they have ignored or forgotten the lesson of his visit. Note how at first they try to recover their own sense of hurt and guilt from their involvement in the blame that has just been apportioned to each of them. However, very quickly, and perhaps too quickly, they then turn away from their own guilt and involvement and begin to think about the Inspector.
It would be so easy for them to dismiss the evening's "entertainment" as some kind of stunt and carry on with their lives without really allowing the events of that evening to change them. Gerald's discovery that there is no such individual as Inspector Goole gives them all a sense of relief that suggests this very outcome. Thus the ending is vitally important in not letting the characters off the hook. They must face their own guilt and involvement in the death of Eva Smith. They have had to face this now already, but will they respond in the same way? The audience is left to ponder these questions as the curtain falls.
Well, let's look at the ending, and then try to figure out why it's important. Here are Goole's last words before he leaves the house:
We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. ... Good night."
The family members quickly forget their own guilt in favor of figuring out the identity of the inspector. As it turns out, their own investigation reveals there IS no "Inspector Goole." Such is a play on the character's name: goole/ghoul. He is a "ghost" of sorts: a ghost of forewarning. For suddenly there is a final phone call. A girl is dead after swallowing disinfectant, ... and an inspector is on the way!
There is something supernatural at work here, more than just a fortuitous circumstance. This "ghost," this "ghoul," this "Goole" has a moral purpose here. Goole is not trying to solve a simple crime, he is trying to give each member of society (and of this family, specifically) culpability for this death.
Still, the curtain falls before the "real" inspector arrives. We, as watchers (or readers) are meant to wonder how the family will truly react. Will they learn from their experience? Or will they fail once again?
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