An Inspector Calls - Characters



  • Impressionable and willing to accept new ideas/concepts - a microcosm for the youth of society
    • "We often do on the young ones. They're more impressionable
  • Almost an accomplice to the Inspector, she's easily affected by his revelations about family and society, so criticises others and herself like he does
    • "The point is, you don't seem to have learnt anything"
  • Previously she was indifferent to the hypocrisy of society and her family, but when the Inspector comes she rejects it
    • "It frightens me the way you talk"
  • She's sensitive and intelligent, and realises that the Inspector can see through them all
    • "We hardly ever told him anything he didn't know"
  • She abuses her power, but feels remorseful about it and wants to change
    • "It didn't seem to be anything very terrible at the time.....And if I could help her now, I would-"
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  • He's upper class (and the Birlings try to **** up to his because of this)
    • "We're respectable citizens and not criminals"
  • Initially he tried to conceal his involvement, but not very well
    • "(startled) What?" "Why should I have known her?"
  • His attitudes to women were typical of the time -  he objectified the working classes, and makes the decisions in his business transaction of a relationship with Sheila
    • "I hate those hard-eyed dough-faced women"
  • He made her happy for some time - so could be seen as having less responsibility- but his remorse also seems put on and his story could be biased
    • "I was sorry for her....I didn't ask for anything in return"
  • He doesn't really learn from the Inspector
    • "Everything's all right now, Sheila"
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Mr. Birling

  • He's seen as a ridiculous character because of the way dramatic irony is used to prove him wrong
    • "Silly little war scares"
  • He's the stereotypical capitalist, individualistic businessman: he only values money and status, and whilst he thinks he treats his workers well he's actually quite cruel
    • "Lower costs and higher prices"
  • He tries to assert his authority over the Inspector
    • "How do you get on with our Chief Constable, Colonel Roberts?"    "I don't see we need to tell the Inspector anything more"
  • He's seen as the head of the family and asserts his authority over them
    • "Nothing to do with you, Sheila. Run along"
  • He refuses to accept any responsibility to show that the older generations don't change
    • "In fact, it makes all the difference"
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Mrs. Birling

  • She strongly believes in the old order of things, and as part of this patronizes her children
    • "When you're married you'll realize that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business. You'll have to get used to that"
  • She's her husband's social superior, more arrogant and snobbish than he is, and she also tries to use this to intimidate the Inspector
    • "And if I was, what business is it of yours?"
  • She refuses to take responsibility for her actions, so is arguably the worst character
    • "But I think she had only herself to blame"   "I did nothing I'm ashamed of"
  • She can be seen as heartless, for example the way she turns Eva/Daisy away
    • "I think it was simply a piece of gross impertinence -quite deliberate- and naturally that was one of the things that prejudiced me against her case"
  • She purposely avoids Eric's problems and turns a blind eye, to keep up her social standing
    • "Besides, you're not the type -you don't get drunk-"
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  • He shares his thoughts and ideas with Sheila, but she does more
    • "And I agree with Sheila. It frightens me too"
  • He drinks too much (although his mother turns a blind eye)
    • "You're squiffy"
  • He has no love from his father, who thinks his education was a wate (and in return he acts mainly as an irritant to Mr. Birling)
    • "(angrily to Eric) You're the one I blame for this"
  • He forced himself onto Eva (an abuse of power) and objectifies women
    • "Yes, i insisted"    "I hate these fat old tarts round the town"
  • Initially he blames others, but he also accepts responsibility, shows remorse, and changes
    • "I'm ashamed of you as well"    "And it doesn't alter the fact that we all helped to kill her"
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  • The Inspector is the mouthpiece of Priestley and of socialism, for example saying that society had failed her and not just them
    • "You see, we have to share something. If there's nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt"    "Public men have responsibilities as well as privileges"
  • He believes in actions and consequences
    • "Chain of events"
  • His use of dramatic irony is prophetic, contrasting its use to ridicule Mr. Birling
    • "They will be taught in fire and blood and anguish"
  • He takes control and is powerful, authoritative and purposeful
    • "One line of inquiry at a time"
  • His unusual processes, impertinent questions and moral investigations show that he is not a real police inspector
    • "Didn't I say I couldn't imagine a real police inspector talking like  that to us?"
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