An Inspector Calls: Who's Who

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  • Who's Who
    • Mr Arthur Birling
      • His main priority is to protect his reputation  to ensure that he is still eligible for a knighthood
      • He has worked his way up in the world
      • He is a proud man: of his social status and family
      • He tries to impress the inspector whit his influential friends and status
      • He is optimistic for the future and confident there will not be a war
      • As the audience knows, there will be a war, this makes us doubt his judgement
      • If he is wrong about the war, what else is he wrong about?
      • He is extremely selfish
      • He strongly believes that a man has to make his own way
      • He believes that a socialistic world is nonsense
      • He  can not see that he did anything wrong is sacking Eva, because he was just looking after his business
    • Mrs Sybil Birling
      • She is a snob, very aware of the differences between social classes
      • She has the least respect for the Inspector of all the characters
      • She sees Sheila and Eric still as "children"and speaks patronisingly to them.
      • She tries to deny things that she doesn't want to believe: Eric's drinking, Gerald's affair with Eva, and the fact that a working class girl would refuse money even if it was stolen, claiming "She was giving herself ridiculous airs."
      • At the end of the play, she has had to come to terms that her son is a heavy drinker who got a girl pregnant and stole money to support her
      • Like her husband, she refuses to accept any responsibility for the death of Eva
      • She admits she was prejudice against a girl who applied to her committee
    • Sheila Birling
      • we know that she has had suspicions about Gerald when she mentions "last summer, when you never came near me." Does this suggest that she is not as naive and shallow as she first appears?
      • she shows her compassionimmediately she hears of her father's treatment of Eva Smith: "But these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people."Already, she is starting to change.
      • She is horrified by her own part in Eva's story. She feels full of guilt for her jealous actions and blames herself
      • She is curious. She genuinely wants to know about Gerald's part in the story. It's interesting that she is not angry with him when she hears about the affair: she says that she respects his honesty. She is becoming more mature.
      • She is angry with her parents in Act 3 for trying to "pretend that nothing much has happened.
      • At the end of the play, Sheila is much wiser. She can now judge her parents and Gerald from a new perspective
      • greatest change has been in herself: her social conscience has been awakened and she is aware of her responsibilities.
    • Ric Birling
      • Eric seems embarrassed and awkwardright from the start.
      • It soon becomes clear to us (although it takes his parents longer) that he is ahardened drinker.
      • When he hears how his father sacked Eva Smith, he supports the worker's cause, like Sheila. "Why shouldn't they try for higher wages?"
      • He feels guilt and frustration with himself over his relationship with the girl.
      • He had some innate sense of responsibility, though, because although he got a woman pregnant, he was concerned enough to give her money. He was obviously less worried about stealing
      • He is appalled by his parents' inability to admit their own responsibility.
      • UAt the end of the play, like Sheila, he is fully aware of his social responsibilityntitled
    • Gerald Croft
      • He is an aristocrat - the son of Lord and Lady Croft
      • He is not as willing as Sheila to admit his part in the girl's death to the Inspector and initially pretends that he never knew her.
      • He did have some genuine feeling for Daisy Renton, however: he is very moved when he hears of her death.
      • Despite this, in Act 3 he tries to come up with as much evidence as possible to prove that the Inspector is a fake - because that would get him off the hook
      • At the end of the play, he has not changed. He has not gained a new sense of social responsibility
    • Inspector Goole
      • He works very systematically; he likes to deal with "one person and one line of enquiry at a time."
      • He is a figure of authority.
      • He seems to know and understand an extraordinary amount
      • He leaves the family with the message "We are responsible for each other" and warns them of the "fire and blood and anguish" that will result if they do not pay attention to what he has taught them.
      • All this mystery suggests that the Inspector is not a 'real' person. So, what is he?
        • UIs he a ghost? Goole reminds us of 'ghoul'.ntitled
        • Is he the voice of Priestley?
        • Is he the voice of God?
        • Is he the voice of all our consciences?
    • Eva Smith
      • Her parents were dead.
      • She was working class
      • The Inspector says that she had kept a sort of diary, which helped him piece together the last two years of her life:
      • Eva is similar to Eve, the first woman created by God in the Bible. Smith is the most common English surname. So, Eva Smith couldrepresent every woman of her class.
  • An Inspector Calls


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