An Inspector Calls Summary


Act One

  • Sheila and Gerald celebrate their engagement with the Birling family.
  • Mr Birling makes a speech outlining his capitalist views on advances in science and relationships between bosses and workers.
  • Evening interrupted by the arrival of Inspector Goole making enquiries about the suicide of Eva Smith.
  • The inspector shows a photograph of Eva to Mr Birling who recognises her as an ex-employee at the factory. She was sacked for leading a strike for higher wages.
  • Sheila & Eric agree their father has acted harshly, while Gerald supports Mr Birling's claim saying that he acted reasonably.
  • Sheila is later shown the photo of Eva and realises that she too had been responsible for another sacking of Eva driven by jealousy and ill temper.
  • When Gerald learns the girl changed her name to Daisy Renton, his reaction shows that he had once known the girl too.
  • The Inspector suggests that many people share the responsibility for the misery which prompted Eva Smith/Daisy Renton to end her life.
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Act Two

  • Gerald admits he met Daisy Renton in last year's Spring & she was with him for six months. Sheila is hurt and angry at Gerald’s involvement with the girl. 
  • She also feels a certain admiration of his honesty and openness.
  • Mrs Birling tries to bully the Inspector and to control events.
  • Sheila realises that the Inspector's enquiries are well founded and that her mother might also have had some dealings with the girl.
  • While Eric is out the room, Mrs Birling is forced to admit that the girl asked for help of the charity she works for and was refused. It is revealed the girl was pregnant, and Mrs Birling lays the blame for the girls death on the father on the unborn child. There is suspicion that Eric might have been the father to the unborn child and as Mrs Birling begins to relay the facts Eva told her, it becomes clear that Eric and the father are quite similar.
  • Sheila realises what is happening and tries to stop her mother as Mrs Birling begins to rant about how the father should be punished and made an example of.
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Act Three

  • Eric arrives home. He confesses that he got Eva pregnant and that he stole money from his father's firm to support her. Eric blames Mrs Birling for the girl's death. 
  • The Inspector makes a dramatic speech about the consequences of the sort of social irresponsibility that Mr Birling was preaching about in Act One.
  • The inspector, having shown that each family member (including Gerald) had a part in ruining the girls life and driving her to commit suicide, leaves.
  • Between them, Gerald and Mr Birling gradually prove that the man who had just visited them was not a real Inspector. A telephone call to the Chief Constable establishes there is no Inspector Goole on the police force. A call to the Infirmary confirms that there were no recent suicides.
  • Eric & Sheila continue to feel guilty about what they have done, but the others now shrug off any guilt.
  • Mr Birling answers the telephone and is informed that "a young woman has just died on her way to the Infirmary and an inspector is on is way to make some enquiries"
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