An Inspector Calls key quotes


Mr Birling

'your engagement to Sheila means a tremedous lot to me'- thinks about his business 

'hard headed business man' cares for business only, has little respect for anything else

'nobody wants war' 'unsinkable, absolutley unsinkable'- arrogant. Foreshadowing. shows to a 1945 audience that Mr Birling is a foolish character and nothing he says should be taken seriously

'Just a knighthood of course'- boasts about his place in socety. later on in the play he mirrors this when he is worried he will lose the chance. shows how insensitive and selfish he is

'(rather impatiently)' - when talking about the death of Eva he shows no sympathy or respect

'I can't accept any responsibilty'- in a play about responsibility, he is an example of how not to behave 

'a nasty mess you've made of it now, haven't you?'- more concerned about his happiness in the night than the suicide of Eva

'I don't like your tone'- doesn't like someone else having more power than him

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Mr Birling 2

'I'd give thousands- yes thousands'- tries to solve anything with money. ironic how he sacked Eva for asking for a small raise but when his reputation is on the line he will do anything

'There'll be a public scandal'- worried about his rep

'(Exitedly) By jingo! A fake!' relieved he isn't being held accountable for his actions

Used by Priestly to show the attitudes of the upper class towards lower classes

Priestly wanted to show the audience how not to behave

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Mrs Birling

' a rather cold woman' - shows early on how this is going to be a stubborn situation

'a girl of that sort'- ignorant of how lower classes live. assumed Eva stole the money because of her position in society only

'(smiling)' - thinks he family is perfect at first

'I beg your pardon!'- doesn't like being bossed around

'I think she had only herself to blame'- stern and cold. refuses to believe that her perfect family could be responsible

'Go look for the father of the child. It's his responsibility'- ironic as the father is her son and she doesn't want anyone in her family to take the blame

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Mrs Birling 2

'(with a cry) oh - Eric- how could you?'- shows the break in her family ideal. her family isn't as perfect as she thought

'of course it does'- said to Sheila when Sheila argues that the insepctor being fake doesn't change anything. shows lack of conscience and lesson not learnt

Sees lower classes as inferior. Priestly wanted audience to see that this needs to change for society to improve

Makes us aware of how large the class divide was in 1912

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'Crofts Limited is both older and bigger'- comes from an upper class family. could share the views of Mr and Mrs Birling 

'why should i have known her?'- denial. could be because of pride and doesn't want to be associated with a lower class girl. audience wonders what he is hiding

'I didn't ask for anything in return'- this is expected now but he wants to prove that he is noble

'(gravely)' shows regret momentarily

'We've been had'- relieved he doesnt have to take responsibilty

'That may have all been nonsense' 'Everythings alright now'- shows refusal to change and accept responsibility 

Shows how deeply the upper class' attitudes were

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'Yes, go on, Mummy'- happy to be a part of the family at the start

'But these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people' - shows divide betwewn old and young

'it was my own fault'- accepts responsibilty straight away

'You musn't try and build a wall between us and that girl'- shows how the younger generation are changing. still refers to her as that girl. shows how despite change there was still some left over norms

'Impertinent is such a silly word'- audience is reminded of her age yet maturity over matters like these

'(bitterly)'- contrasts to start of play where she was eager to hear what her mother had to say

'You don't seem to have learnt anything'- frustrated at family's denial

'But it doesnt make any real difference'- still accepts responsibilty when Inspector is found to be fake. tries to enforce it onto her family

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Sheila 2

'(bitterly) I suppose we're all nice people now'- not turning a blind eye. family is divided

'(passionately)' - proves that her guilt wasn't a show for the Inspector

'it frightens me the way you talk'- Priestly wanted audience to be frightened of the attitudes of society so that they can change for the better

Represents young generation which were seen as more impressionable and open to changes

Gives audience hope for a better society

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'You're squiffy'- called out by Sheila about his irresponsibility

'He could have kept her on instead of throwing her out'- doesn't know it is Eva yet. stands up for a stranger of a lower class. younger generation

'That might have started it'- attempts to get his father to see how he could be to blame

'I was in a hell of a state about it'- mature for a drinker

'You killed her'- shifts blame to avoid feeling completely guilty

'What does it matter now whether they give you the knighthood or not?'- acknowledges there are more important matters at stake

'(bursting out)'- frustrated at familt's lack of conscience

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Eric 2

'we all helped to kill her'- like Sheila, Eric wants his family to take responsibility

'I agree with Sheila'- old vs young

Represents the younger generation along with Sheila

There is hope for the futur society if we keep being progressive instead of stubborn

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Inspector Goole

'We hear a sharp ring'- right after Mr Birling says that it is every man for himself. shows how this is not true and the Inspector will prove it

'an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness'- takes charge. cannot be bribed or distracted

'looking hard'- there to challenge and investigate

'she died in misery and agony'- aggressive to make characters feel sorrow

'We are members of one body'- morality

'millions of Eva Smiths'- not just one story. common name to apply to whole of society. has biblical connotations also

'public men, Mr Birling, have responsibilites as well as privelages'- shows how upper classes only thought of themselves and not how they affected others. Inspector Goole was here to try and change that

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Inspector Goole 2

'We don't live alone'- sums up the idea of the Inspector

'If men will not learnt that lesson then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish'- his last message. If society refuses to change then it will be destroyed by unstoppable factors. Sinister and aggressive tones

Represents Priestly's socialist and morality views

Inpector Goole controls the structure of the play and everything goes the way he plannes. Shows how everything in society will be changed no matter how stubborn the classes are

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