An Inspector Calls FULL NOTES

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An Inspector Calls
An Inspector Calls is a morality play (A drama with a clear message, guiding the
audience to behave in a morally correct way) or a `whodunit' (a detective story)
Priestly wrote it to express his socialist views
The play reveals truth, teaches moral message about responsibility and
warns of consequences if message not heeded
Setting:
Play set in 1912, written in 1945
`An Inspector Calls' is set in the fictional industrial city of Brumley.
Takes place in one location
Set in the home of a prosperous factory owner
Play shows the difference in lifestyle between those who had money
and power and those who didn't and depended on work
Irony:
The First World War would start in two years. Birling's optimistic view that there
would not be a war is completely wrong.
Mr Birling is excited about the sailing of The Titanic: famously, the ship sank on her
maiden voyage. This puts the audience at an advantage over the characters and makes
us more involved.
Mrs. Birling inevitably finds out Eric was the one who got Eva Smith pregnant, when
beforehand she stated "some drunken young idler" which highlights that she put
the blame on the man that made her pregnant which turned out to be Eric
When the inspector rings the doorbell of the house, Birling is explaining to Eric and
Gerald about responsibility; the inspector explains the moral meaning of
responsibility and shows Mr. Birling he is wrong.
Arthur Birling:
Represents the sin of avarice (or greed)
One dimensional character
Capitalist stock type
He has worked his way up in the world and is proud of his achievements. He
boasts about having been Mayor and tries (and fails) to impress the Inspector
with his local standing and his influential friends
He is extremely selfish:

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Page 2

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He wants to protect himself and his family. He believes that socialist ideas
that stress the importance of the community is "nonsense" and that "a man
has to make his own way."
He wants to protect Birling and Co. He cannot see that he did anything
wrong when he fired Eva Smith - he was just looking after his business
interests.
He wants to protect his reputation.…read more

Page 3

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Page 56 ("Look. Inspector ­ I'd give thousands ­ yes, thousands"): Tries to buy his way
out of trouble.
Page 57 ("You're the one I blame for this."): Refuses to accept responsibility.
Page 57 ("But I care. I was almost certain for a knighthood in the next Honours List ­"):
Cares only about himself.
Page 70 (Jovially): He thinks he can turn back the clock, and everything can be back to
normal.
Sybil Birling:
She represents the sin of pride.…read more

Page 4

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Page 31 ("I'm talking to the Inspector now, if you don't mind.") she thinks her social
position should protect her from unpleasant things.
Page 43 ("Yes."): Admits to prejudice against Eva.
Page 44 ("If you think you can bring any pressure to bear upon me, Inspector, you're
quite mistaken"): Shows how heartless and unmoved she is.
Page 48 ("If the girl's death is due to anybody, then it's due to him") Dramatic irony ­
Eric is the father.…read more

Page 5

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Page 24 ("And if I could help her now, I would ­"): Admits that she acted badly, and feels
ashamed without being told: Sheila gets what the inspector wants her to understand by
herself.
Page 25 ("Oh don't be stupid"): She guesses Gerald's secret ­ she already suspected it.
Page 28 ("Don't please ­ I know ­ I know ­"): She accepts her responsibility; the inspector
shows her pity.
Page 40 ("I rather respect you more than I've ever done before.…read more

Page 6

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Page 5 ("Steady the Buffs!") He's a bit drunk already.…read more

Page 7

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Sympathy towards Daisy - "because I was sorry for her;"
He discovers the truth about the Inspector
Agrees with Mr. Birling about the way a business should be run, Gerald has a
similar outlook on life as Mr. Birling as his views about
businesses and how workers should be treated are the same as
what Mr. Birling believes.
At the end of the play, he has not changed.…read more

Page 8

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General behavior that is found suspicious:
The timing of his entry (noted by Eric)
His intimate knowledge of Eva's life and despite the fact that he never
spoke to her
His method of working: "one person and one line of enquiry at a time" (A
policeman would not insist on this. A real policeman would interview people
alone. This Inspector already knows; he wants the others to see what they have
done.)
His concern for moral law not for criminal law.…read more

Page 9

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The Birling family and Gerald Croft are celebrating Sheila's engagement to Gerald
Mr. Birling makes speeches outlining his views on the advances in science, new
inventions and the relationship between bosses and workers and saying they
should ignore the `cranks' (page 10) who claim everybody has a responsibility to
care for everybody else.
The evening is interrupted by the arrival of a police inspector named Goole
making enquires about the suicide of a young woman, Eva Smith.
Mr.…read more

Page 10

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Gerald and Mr. Birling prove that the man wasn't a real inspector by phoning the
Chief Constable and finding out that no such inspector was on the police force
A telephone call to the infirmary reveals that there has been no recent suicide
Eric and Sheila continue to feel guilt however the others don't
The phone rings and Mr. Birling picks up.…read more

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