An Inspector Calls Themes

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  • Responsibility
    • Most characters use the words responsible and responsibility throughout the play.
    • Each family member has a different attitude to their responsibility in the death of Eva Smith
      • Sheila
        • Feels very responsible for her actions and evidently feels guilt throughout.
          • 'I was in a furious temper. It was my own fault.'
          • It didn't seem to be anything very terrible at the time.
          • 'I pushed her into the street just because I was angry and she was pretty.'
          • 'It doesn't much matter who made us confess.'
          • 'Between us we drove that girl to commit suicide.'
            • Sh'es also ashamed of her family for what they have done.
              • 'It frightens me the way you talk.'
      • Eric
        • He clearly has some sense of responsibility as he knew he had to support the mother of his unborn child.
        • He is horrified that his actions led to such terrible consequences.
          • 'We did her in alright.'
          • 'Oh- my- God!- How stupid it all is.'
      • Mrs Birling
        • Refuses to accept any responsibility for her actions and shows no remorse.
          • 'I accept no blame for it all.'
          • 'I was perfectly justified.'
            • Uses the words 'duty' and 'deserving'  lot to justify her actions.
          • 'I did nothing I'm ashamed of.'
          • 'I've done nothing wrong- and you know it.'
          • 'She had only herself to blame.'
          • 'In the morning they'll be as amused as we are.'
            • Doesn't think she has to change how she behaves- the inspector's visit has had very little impact on her.
      • Mr Birling
        • He cannot see that he did anything wrong with regards to Eva Smith- he was merely looking after business interests.
          • 'The girl had been causing trouble at the works. I was quite justified.'
          • 'Rubbish.'
        • He is more concerned about avoiding a 'public scandal' than reconsidering his behaviour.
          • 'I've got to cover this up as soon as I can.'
          • He looks around 'triumphantly' when he realizes the police inspector is not a real police inspector.
          • 'difference between a lot of stuff like this coming out in  private and a downright public scandal.
      • Gerald Croft
        • He was the least guilty as he at least 'made her happy for a time.' He has similar views to Mr Birling and doesn't think he has anything to learn.
          • 'I don't come into this suicide business.
          • Doesn't think Mr Birling should feel bad for starting the 'chain of events.'
          • More interested in getting things back to how they were with Sheila.
            • 'Everything is alright now Sheila. What about this ring?'
    • The Inspector
      • Talks about collective responsibility.
        • Says everyone is linked and that we are all members of 'one body.'
          • 'Their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives and what we think and say and do.'
            • All responsible for one another- society is more important that the interests of individuals.
        • Adds clear warning of what will happen to those who cannot accept responsibility.
          • 'They will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish.'

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