An Inspector Calls

by J. B. Priestley

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What should the Inspector's initial appearance convey to the audience in An Inspector Calls?

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When the Inspector is first introduced, Priestley writes, 'The Inspector need not be a big man but he creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purpose'. The triplet makes clear that he will dominate proceedings from now on, despite the hostility he faces from Mr and Mrs Birling....

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Also the first part of the quote shows that his ability to dominate does not come from his physical stature. Neither does it come from showy dress as he wears only a 'plain darkish suit of the period'; in other words his attire is unremarkable. His ability to dominate comes from his impressive manner; this is made clear when Priestley writes 'He speaks carefully, weightily, and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking'. The Inspector moderates his voice and also insists on eye contact to achieve maximum impact. All this and we haven't even mentioned his supremely taxing questions yet!     

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