An Inspector Calls Notes

Notes on J.B Priestley's An Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls
Themes
Class And Society
"A fairly large suburban house, belonging to a prosperous manufacturer."
"Her [Mrs. B's] husband's social superior."
"It's exactly the same port your father gets from him." ­ Trying to equal Gerald Croft's father, who owns
a larger shoe manufacturing business than him.
"Arthur, you're not supposed to say such things."[Mrs. B] ­ about complimenting the cook. The
cook's a lower class than him so it's not right.
"Perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are
working together ­ for lower costs and higher prices."[Birling]
"She [L. Croft] feels you might have done better for yourself socially."[Birling]
"She [Lady Croft] comes from an old country family ­ and so it's only natural."[Birling] ­ Shows
social hierarchy.
"A man has to make his own way ­ has to look after himself ­ and his family too, of course."[Birling]
"Community and all that nonsense."[Birling]
"I was an alderman for years ­ and Lord Mayor two years ago ­ and I'm still on the bench."[Birling]
"the son of Sir George Croft."[Birling]. ­ Proving his superior social status, trying to intimidate the
Inspector.
"But after all it's better to ask for the earth than to take it."[Inspector]
"Girls of that class."[Mrs. B]
"Public men, Mr. Birling, have responsibilities as well as privileges."[Inspector]
"She was claiming elaborate fine feelings and scruples that were simply absurd in a girl in her
position."[Mrs. B] ­ Shows her dislike of lower class women.
"As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money!"[Mrs. B]
"We are members of one body."[Inspector]
o At the end of his final speech, sums up Priestley's views and beliefs.
"Didn't I say I couldn't imagine a real police inspector talking like that to us?"[Mrs. B]
Women & Gender
"Really the things you girls pick up these days!"[Mrs. B] Doesn't think young girls should be exposed to
things.
"Clothes mean something different to women."[Birling]
"Nothing to do with you, Sheila. Run along."[Birling]
"But these girls aren't cheap labour ­ they're people."[Sheila]. ­ Feeling more sympathy, asserting
her views.
"And you think young women ought to be protected against unpleasant and disturbing
things?"[Inspector]. "If possible ­ yes."[Gerald.
"Girls of that class."[Mrs. B]
"She was claiming elaborate fine feelings and scruples that were simply absurd in a girl in her
position."[Mrs. B] ­ Shows her dislike of lower class women.
"As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money!"[Mrs. B]
"(Sharply) Sheila, take your mother along to the drawingroom."[Birling]
o Doesn't want the women to hear Eric's story.

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Guilt And Responsibility
"A man has to make his own way ­ has to look after himself ­ and his family too, of course."[Birling]
"I don't see where I come into this"[Birling]
"If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we'd had anything to do
with, it would be very awkward, wouldn't it?"[Birling]
Birling shows a "marked change of tone" when he finds out it's not just him.
"But these girls aren't cheap labour ­ they're people."[Sheila].…read more

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Inspector
Quotes
"He creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidarity and purposefulness."
"But after all it's better to ask for the earth than to take it."[Inspector]
"I've thought that it would do us all a bit of good if sometimes we tried to put ourselves in the place of
these young women counting their pennies in their dingy little back bedrooms."[Inspector]
"Sometimes there isn't as much difference [between "respectable citizens" and "criminals"] as you
think."[Inspector]
"You're partly to blame, just as your father is.…read more

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Quotes
"A prosperous manufacturer."
"BIRLING is a heavylooking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but
rather provincial in his speech."
"The kind of soninlaw I always wanted."[Birling]
"Perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are
working together ­ for lower costs and higher prices."[Birling] ­ seeking more out of his daughter's
marriage then her happiness.
He's a "hardheaded business man".
"I gather there's a pretty good chance of a knighthood.…read more

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A firm believer in capital.
o "For lower costs and higher prices."[Birling]
Believes, like Gerald, that women should be protected from unpleasant things.
o "(Sharply) Sheila, take your mother along to the drawingroom."[Birling]
Doesn't want the women to hear Eric's story.
Believes in every man for himself.
o "Community and all that nonsense."[Birling]
o "A man has to make his own way."[Birling]
A social climber.
o His wife is his "social superior.…read more

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Sheila Birling
Quotes
"A pretty girl in her early twenties very pleased with life and rather excited."
"Yes ­ except for all last summer, when you never came near me, and I wondered what had
happened to you." ­ At the start Sheila is too shy to properly challenge Gerald and get the truth out of
him.
"Nothing to do with you, Sheila. Run along."[Birling]
"I think that was a mean thing to do."[Sheila] ­ pushing above Birling.…read more

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Because you're not the kind of father a chap could go to when he's in trouble."[Eric]
o Standing up to his father.
"Damn you, damn you."[Eric]
"I'm ashamed of you as well."[Eric]
"He was our police inspector all right."[Eric]
"(Shouting) And I say the girl's dead and we all helped to kill her ­ and that's what
matters."[Eric]
Points
Starts off "half shy, half assertive", trying to live up to father's reputation.
Last to be interrogated and father of Eva Smith's child.…read more

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Order of interrogation is specifically chosen for maximum impact, particularly Eric's.
Cliffhangers at end of acts, orchestrated by the Inspector.
Set in real time. No gaps between the events on stage, they all happen as they should.
Staging Of The Play
First performance was in the USSR in 1945. Shows it was acceptable for a communist government, this
proves Priestly to be a socialist.
1/8/1946 = First performance in London in the New Theatre.…read more

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Eric almost attacks his father at the end.
o Lights up on audience at Inspector's final speech.
The light is "pink and intimate" before the Inspector arrives and then "brighter and harder" at his arrival.
UberQuotes
"A man has to make his own way"[Birling]
"Community and all that nonsense."[Birling]
"But after all it's better to ask for the earth than to take it."[Inspector]
"Girls of that class."[Mrs.…read more

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