An Inspector Calls

An Inspector Calls, Characters and descriptions.

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Mr Arthur Birling

"heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties but rather provincial in his speech."

Was not born into wealth, he worked for it.

He boasts about being mayor, and all his achievements.

A merger with Crofts Limited will be good for his business.

He is optimistic for the future and confident that there will not be a war.

He wants to protect Birling and Co. He cannot see that he did anything wrong when he fired Eva Smith.

He wants to protect his reputation, and is very selfish.

He is unable to admit his responsibility for his part in Eva's death.

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Mrs Sybil Birling

"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 sees Sheila and Eric still as "children"and speaks patronisingly to them.

She tries to deny things that she doesn't want to believe.

She admits she was "prejudiced"

She refuses to believe that she did anything wrong and doesn't accept responsibility for her part in Eva's death.

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Sheila Birling

"a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited."

She has had suspicions about Gerald.

She is horrified by her own part in Eva's story.

She is very perceptive.

She is curious and becoming more mature.

At the end of the play, Sheila is much wiser. She can now judge her parents and Gerald from a new perspective.

The Sheila who had a girl dismissed from her job for a trivial reason has vanished forever at the end of the play.

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Eric Birling

"in his early twenties, not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive."

Eric seems embarrassed and awkwardright from the start.

he is a hardened drinker.

He feels guilt and frustration with himself over his relationship with the girl.

He had some innate sense of responsibility, though, because although he got a woman pregnant

He is appalled by his parents' inability to admit their own responsibility.

At the end of the play, like Sheila, he is fully aware of his social responsibility.

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Gerald Croft

"an attractive chap about thirty, rather too manly to be a dandy but very much the easy well-bred man-about-town."

He is an aristocrat - the son of Lord and Lady Croft.

He is not as willing as Sheila to admit his part in the girl's death to the Inspector.

He did have some genuine feeling for Daisy Renton, however: he is very moved when he hears of her death.

He tries to come up with as much evidence as possible to prove that the Inspector is a fake - because that would get him off the hook.

At the end of the play, he has not changed.

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Inspector Goole

"an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. He is a man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit. He speaks carefully, weightily, and has a disconcerting habit of looking hard at the person he addresses before actually speaking. "

He is a figure of authority.

He seems to know and understand an extraordinary amount.

His final speech is like a sermon or a politician's. He leaves the family with the message "We are responsible for each other"

All this mystery suggests that the Inspector is not a 'real' person. So, what is he?

Is he a ghost? Goole reminds us of 'ghoul'.
Is he the voice of Priestley?
Is he the voice of God?
Is he the voice of all our consciences?
Do you have any other suggestions?

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Eva Smith

"very pretty - soft brown hair and big dark eyes."

Her parents were dead.

She came from outside Brumley

She was working class.

The Inspector says that she had kept a sort of diary, which helped him piece together the last two years of her life.

Think about Eva's name. Eva is similar to Eve, the first woman created by God in the Bible. Smith is the most common English surname. So, Eva Smithcould represent every woman of her class.

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Very helpful thank you, and I hadnt thought of the name connotations ("ghoul" and Eva/Eve). Great concise notes! **

Harriet Holmes

Yes, these are wonderful! Thank you! **


Great Notes ! Thanks

Louise Yu

thank you!

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