an inspector calls ~ act one key quotes

  • Created by: haweya_.a
  • Created on: 25-11-18 10:22


  • The Birling family are celebrating Sheila's engagment to Gerald. It all seems to be going well, but Sheila suspects that Gerald lost intrest in her last summer.
  • Arthur gives a speech to Eric and Gerald about buisness. He says that every man should look after himself
  • Inspector Goole arrives and says that a woman called Eva Smith has committed suicide by drinking disinfectant. He startes to question the family members, one by one.
  • It turns out Arthur Birling sacked Eva Smith from his factory for striking in protest against low wages and that Sheila asked for Eva smith to be sacked from a department store last year.
  • The inspector explains that Eva smith then changed her name to Daisy Renton.Gerald appears shocked and Eric leaves.
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"substantial and heavily comfortable but not cosy and homelike"

  • This suggest that the birling family are rich and that they have more then they need.This is the message Priestly is trying to get across-- how the rich people have more then they need.
  • This means that due to their class, their home is not to be lived in, instead it is for decoration to show people how amazing their lovely house is. The Birling’s household is a house, not a home.Could represent the hostile environment they live in.

"pink and intimate but when the inspector arrives it should be brighter and harder"

  • Calm and welcoming setting and a happy atmosphere.The pink lighting alludes to the saying looking through rose tinted glasses. This implies that this an optimistic perception of the situation and that the audience are observing what seems like a perfect family but is actually very dysfunctional.This also implies that the Birlings are delusional and are oblivious to the world they live in.
  • the increase in light suggests the family will literally and mentally become enlightened because of the inspectors knowledge that he will pass on to them.Creates the idea of interrogation and suggests they have done something wrong.
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Mr Birling

  • Described in the beginning as a heavy looking , rather portenous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech.
  • “Heavy-looking” might suggest that he is rich, because the cost of food round that time that the play was set was expensive and the Birlings could afford food, “heavy-looking” might be a description of how he is rich.
  • Portentous is a synonym of importance,the fact Mr. Birling is RATHER portentous makes us question whether he actually is important or whether this is how he sees himself, The Inspector soon enters the play and shows that social class does not make us more important or better people. He is the voice of JB Priestley and does not fit into ANY class.
  • Arrogant:He makes long speeches at dinner about things that the audience would know were incorrect. For example, he claims war will never happen and that the Titanic is unsinkable."And I'm talking as a hard-headed, practical man of business. And I say there isn’t a chance of war. The world's developing so fast that it'll make war impossible."- hard headed but also hard hearted as he’s forgotten his true meaning in life+dominating+ forgotten his routes (‘old money/new money’)+self centered+ business over his daughter’s engagement+wants everyone to know how successful he is (insecure)+alliteration highlights how he has become cold and lost his life’s purpose+ business over family, doesn’t let his feelings get into the way+ self-confidence+ repetition emphasis on that he is wrong+work over his family+ thinks he’s knowledgeable but is actually ignorant+proud of his flaw+capitalistic+generation gap+ arrogant and stuck up+powerful+social inequality+capitalism was seen as the right way, Priestly is trying to show that it isn’t by making him an unlikeable character.
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Mr Birling 2

  •  Capitlalist: Mr Birling is a business man whose main concern is making money. This is what is most important to him and he comes across as being greedy."But the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else".Strongly disagrees with social responsibility and belivers in every man for himself "man has to mind his own business and look after himself."Priestly continues throughout the play to build this foolish facade around Birling to convince the audience that what he is saying is nonsense.Also when the inspector arrives their was a sharp ring of the bell which interrupts his speech about capatalism - this mirrors how the inspector will stop these beliefs and shine light on Mr Birling and his families wrong doings ( because when the inspector comes the pink and intimate light becomes harder and brighter which implies an interrogation and how their bubble is popped )
  • Cold-hearted as he doesnt take any responsibility in his role in  Eva's death :"obviously it has nothing to do with this wrethced girls suicide".Mr Birling is trying to cut off his involvment in the  suiciede. This can be shown as he wants nothing to do with" the girl " and refuses to use her name , he's removing all personal connections with her. Moreover the use of the apostrophe in "wretched girl's" shows he's saying the suicide was her possesion and therefore her fault and he has nothing to do with it .“, Birling disregards Eva’s death and his use of “wretched” and “girl” shows Eva’s unimportance to him. Alternatively Mr Birling may be deeply affected by Eva’s death as shown in the verb “wretch” which could mean the idea of her suicide is sickening however the noun “wretched” could mean he feels he is of a higher status than her. The word “girl” shows a superiority barrier between him and the lower class. Priestley may have done this to show how the ruling class exploited the lower class.
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Inspector Gooles

  • Introdued : " but he creates at once an impression of  massiveness,solidity and purposefulness".At this point in the play, the Inspector’s role is hugely ambiguous, yet his power over the family is growing. He silences Birling on more than one occasion and even manages to break the composure of Mrs. Birling by allowing her to trap her own son. He seems to have known already that Gerald, Eric, and Mrs.Birling were also involved.
  • Emotive:When he tells the other about Eva Smith's death he leaves in the gruesome details."Her position now is that she lies with a burnt out inside on a slab".This is such a shocking image presented in plain language, it is not surprising that it impacts upon the emotions of the other characters and the audience. The Inspector uses this language intentionally to make the family more likely to confess.
  • The lighting changing from pink and intimate to bright and harder acts as an indication that the inspector is an image of transcendence.Preiestly uses the character Inspector Goole as way to advocate his socialist beliefs.
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Mrs Birling

  • She is described at the start as “about fifty, a rather cold woman and her husband’s social superior.She is a snob, very aware of the differences between social classes. She is irritated when Mr Birling makes the social gaffe of praising the cook in front of Gerald and later is very dismissive of Eva, saying “Girls of that class.”She has the least respect for the Inspector of all the characters. She tries – unsuccessfully – to intimidate him and force him to leave, then lies to him when she claims that she does not recognise the photograph that he shows her.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.”
  • Her husbands social superioir: "(reproachfully)Arthur you're not supposed to say such things-"In chastising her husband for a rather harmless remark, Mrs. Birling betrays her concern for the family’s conduct and social manners; she clearly wants to make a good impression on Gerald Croft.As before the marriage, Mrs. Birling was of a higher social class then Mr. Birling, she reminds him of the ‘proper ways’ to act, by doing so, she tediously keeps reminding him that she was the one the one who married down.
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  • She is described at the start as “a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited.”Even though she seems very playful at the opening, 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?Although she has probably never in her life before considered the conditions of the workers, she shows her compassion immediately 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 as “really responsible.”She is very perceptive: she realises that Gerald knew Daisy Renton from his reaction, the moment the Inspector mentioned her name.
  • Sheila, like Eric, allows Priestley to show his opinions on youth. He felt that there was hope in the young people of post-war Britain. He saw them as the ones who would help solve the problems the country had with class, gender and social responsibility. This is seen in how Sheila is deeply affected by Eva's death, she accepts responsibility straightaway and promises to never behave in such a way again. This is not the case with the older characters, Mr and Mrs Birling and even Gerald do not accept responsibility and we do not get the impression that they will change.
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Sheila 2

Materialistic:"Now i really feel engaged"This implies that she cares more about the actual ring than when he proposed to her, ‘only feeling married’ now, when she has a material object to prove so.Alternatively, Sheila wanting the engagement ring could show her not fully trusting Gerald on his word that he wanted to marry her (due to the summer he abandoned her so easily) and instead wanted the ring as more a “proper” sign of commitment from him that he only wants her and is good enough for him (which may lead to her insecurities within herself as seen with Eva’s dismissal at Millwards).

Childish at the start:" Yes go on Mummy".Uses childish language and yet she’s engaged – shows how in Victorian times, women were pressured to quickly get married and have children.As well her parents may still treat Sheila somewhat like a child and she may have not encountered any ‘real-life’ situations, this will change later on in the play as the Inspector comes.


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Lacking confidence:" i dont know - really.Suddenly i felt i just had to laugh".The stage directions describe Eric as being 'half shy, half assertive' and this comes across in his dialogue. He is awkward and unsure of himself. Here he cannot explain his sudden laughter.Shows Eric as very childish and immature with no worries and a free spirit.

Assertive:"No, I mean about this girl - Eva Smith. Why shouldn't they try for higher wages? We try for the highest possible prices. And I don't see why she should have been sacked just because she'd a bit more spirit than the others".At the start of the play, Eric shows that he can be assertive. Here he questions his father's decision to sack Eva Smith. He backs up his point with a well-reasoned argument. His father quickly shouts him down though.Eric again displays his growing allegiance with the laborers’ side of the conflict, in defending their right to higher wages. The investigation is beginning to introduce conflict into the family.

J B Priestley uses Eric as he does Sheila - to suggest that the young people of a post-war Britain would be the answer to a hopeful future. With Eric he also addresses some concerns he had about the dangers of immoral behaviour. Through Eric, Priestley shows that excessive drinking and casual relationships can have consequences.

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Confident:"Sure to be, unless Eric’s been up to something."Mr Birling suggests that he is in line for a knighthood so long as the family have behaved themselves. Gerald confidently makes a joke at Eric's expense which is full of irony.

Priestley uses Gerald to attack the upper-classes of post-war Britain. He shows that despite outward appearances, Gerald is described as an 'attractive chap' and 'well-bred'. This class of people were still capable of questionable behaviour. Gerald has an affair and initially tries to avoid telling the truth. Priestley also suggests that they saw themselves above the problems of the working-classes - Gerald tries to get himself and the Birlings out of trouble.

"I dont pretend to know much about it".However, this could also show Gerald’s superior status over Mr. Birling because he isn’t trying to impress him, whereas Mr. Birling is. This is juxtaposition.

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