Inspector Goole is described as creating an, _‘impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’. _He is in his fifties and dressed in a plain suit.

The Inspector is very direct and methodical in his approach to the investigation. He looks hard at the person he is addressing; weighing them up, before speaking. His words are powerful, as he is able to draw out each member of the family plus Gerald.

Who introduces the inspector in the play?
Your answer should include: Parlourmaid / Edna
What is his surname? What is it similar to?
Your answer should include: Goole / Ghoul
What ideals and attitudes does the inspector portray?


Little is known about the Inspector’s background away from this scene.

He arrives at the house and interacts with each of the characters individually. He makes a good impression to Sheila Birling who adopts his attitude by the end of the play.

In contrast to this, he is regarded as ‘impertinent’ by Mrs Birling who hates that he is interrogating the family.

Social Standing

As a police inspector, Goole would be regarded as lower middle class.

He represents the proletariat and gives them a voice.


The Inspector calls in Act One and is introduced to the family by Edna. He interrupts Mr Birling’s speech, which is anti-socialist and pro-capitalist.

He is an imposing antagonistic character who changes the mood from celebratory to sombre.

The lighting changes to reflect his role, as someone who is going to shine a light on the true behaviour and attitude of the Bourgeoisie.

He explains that a young girl killed herself by drinking disinfectant and that he is there to carry out his inquiry.

Goole interrogates each character individually and highlights how they were involved with the victim’s demise. He is used as an omniscient narrator who collates the information he needs from each suspect to formulate a story of the girl’s experience.

First, Mr Birling who sacked her from his company. Second, Sheila who got the girl fired from her job in Milwards department store. In Act Two, it is revealed that Gerald was keeping her as his mistress. Then, Mrs Birling was last to see her, when she refused to be charitable and support the desperate pregnant girl. Mrs Birling’s insistence that the father was responsible leads to Eric’s involvement. He is questioned last in Act Three, he forced himself on the victim and got her pregnant.

Inspector Goole aims to reform the family by showing them the error of their ways. The younger generation are impressionable and take on his Socialist ideals about how to treat others. Whereas, the parents refuse to change their Capitalist attitude.

Throughout the play, Inspector Goole is very aloof about himself. He states that he has just transferred to the area and that he doesn’t know many people. After Gerald’s investigation, it seems that the Inspector is not a real officer. He disappears and fulfils the homophone of his surname; maybe he is in fact a ghoul that was sent to present the future.

The character of the Inspector is used as vehicle to present Priestley’s perspective. If the next generation do not consciously change their ways from that of their elders, the divide between the social elite and the underprivileged will widen. Socialism worldwide is necessary for a better world.