An Inspector Calls- Key Quotes

Key quotes from each character in An Inspector Calls (C section, WJEC English Literature Specification B).

There's definitely no need to learn all of these quotes, and there are plenty of others that could be used instead, however I think I've managed to get the majority of the most important lines for each character together, along with a very brief explanation of each one.

Enjoy. :)

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  • Created by: Harriet
  • Created on: 23-05-11 15:11

Arthur Birling

Act One

  • "Lower costs and higher prices" his priority is business and profits, not people.
  • "You're just the kind of son-in-law I always wanted" he is obsessed with status, happy that Shiela is 'marrying up'.
  • "A man has to make his own way" he does not believe in community or interdependence, Priestly's ideals.
  • "The way some of these cranks talk, you'd think everybody has to look after everybody else" again does not care for others.
  • "I refused of course" it is natural to him that he should turn down Eva Smith's request for more money.

Act Two

  • "I don't propose to give you much more rope" implies that inspector is in the wrong, and doing a bad thing.
  • "You weren't asked to come here to talk to me about my responsibilities" deals with one of the key themes of the play.
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Arthur Birling

Act Three

  • "I've got to cover this up" his main concern is being 'found out'. He doesn't care what he may have done, so long as no-one knows about it.
  • "There's every excuse for what both your mother and I did" he fiercly resists responsibility.
  • "You allowed yourselves to be bluffed" because the Inspector was a fake, he no longer cares. He hasn't learnt anything.
  • "Just remember your position young man" he has a very hierachical view of family.
  • "Probably a Socialist or some sort of crank" Priestly was a socialist.
  • "The famous younger generation who know it all" doesn't listen to Eric and Shiela because he thinks himself better and more knowledgable than them.
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Mrs Birling

Act One

Mrs Birling has very few lines in Act One.

  • "I think Shiela and I had better go to the drawing room and leave you men-" she has a traditional view of the place of women.

Act Two

  • "You seem to have made a great impression on this child, Inspector" this is hierachical and patronising towards Shiela.
  • "You know my husband was Lord Mayor only two years ago" implied threat based on social status.
  • "No of course not, he's only a boy" when asked if Eric is used to drinking. This is foreshadowing, and she could either be unaware or lying.
  • "Over excited" she thinks of her children as very young children.
  • "I must say, we are learning something tonight" foreshadowing.
  • "I did nothing I'm ashamed of" depsite admitting to being prejudiced against the girl, she feels no guilt. 
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Mrs Birling

  • "I used my influence to have it refused" she has a lot of power and social status.
  • "If he refused to marry her (...) then he must at least support her" irony! She is talking about Eric.
  • "As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money!" very derogatory comment.
  • "If the girl's death is due to anybody, it's due to him" does not think that the culprit could possibly be someone of high status.

Act Three

  • "No -Eric - please - I didn't know - I didn't understand-" for the first and only time in the play, Mrs Birling shows a little bit of guilt.
  • "Eric, I'm completely ashamed of you" she blames Eric, not herself.
  • "the way you children talk" patronising.
  • "Just be quiet so your father can decide what we ought to do" hierachy.
  • "I didn't give in to him" she refuses to accept responsibility. Does this make her the most guilty?
  • "They're over-tired" disregards Eric and Shiela completely.
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Gerald Croft

Act One

  • "You couldn't have done anything else" he sides with Mr Birling about sacking the workers. 
  • "And we can't help you there because we don't know" dramatic irony, they do know.
  • "There's nothing to settle as far as I'm concerned" does not see his link to the case.
  • "We're respectable citizens and not criminals" he thinks they have no part in her death.
  • "I don't come into this suicide business [...] neither of us does" he doesn't think Shiela can be blamed.

Act Two

  • "She's had a long and exciting day" patronising Shiela.
  • "It's bound to be unpleasant and disturbing" he does not think Shiela should hear his 'interview' because it is upsetting. Traditional view of 'sensitive' women.
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Gerald Croft

  • "You've been through it- and now you want to see someone else put through it" bitter an unkind toward Shiela.
  • "I've suddenly realised [...] that she's dead" one of the only characters who seems to be upset by her death.
  • "Got him out of the way" he rescued her for Alderman Meggarty, this shows kindness.
  • "She also told me she'd had a job in one of the works [...] and had had to leave after a strike" this line suggests that she is indeed the same girls.
  • "I don't think so" this line is in response to Mrs Birling suggesting that they are nearly finished. He seems to have taken the same view a Shiela here, that the Inspector is all-knowing.

Act Three

  • "That man wasn't a police officer" key line, changes the perspective and view of the older Birlings.
  • "We've been had" doesn't think there was any truth in what the Inspector said at all.
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Gerald Croft

  • "But how do you know it's the same girl?" another key line, Gerald is obviously keen to prove the Inspector wrong.
  • "Everything's all right now Shiela" he seems to have forgotten the Inspector's 'lesson' on responsibility. 
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Shiela Birling

Act One

  • "Except for all last summer, when you never came near me" foreshadowing and dramatic irony. Shiela half expects that there was another woman.
  • "Oh I wish you hadn't told me" she doesn't want to know about the dead girl, because it spoils her happy mood. Naive, ignorant.
  • "You talk as if we were responsible"  foreshadowing- they are!
  • "It was a mean thing to do" she hypocritically criticizes Mr Birling without realising it- she thinks herself innocent.
  • "But these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people" young generation's view very different.
  • "So I'm really responsible?" she is kind hearted.
  • "I expect you've done things you're ashamed of too" to Gerald- yes he has! Foreshadowing.
  • "It didn't seem to be anything very terrible at the time" shows her gap in social status, doesn't understand the value of a job.
  • "Why- you fool- he knows" very important line- Shiela is aware that the Inspector has information
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Shiela Birling

Act Two

  • "He means that I'm getting hysterical now" surly and bitter toward Gerald.
  • "I know I'm to blame" only character to accept blame so far.
  • "I feel you're beginning all wrong. I'm afraid you'll say something or do something that you'll be sorry for afterwards" foreshadowing.
  • "You mustn't try to build up a wall" trying to articulate her feelings/suspicions.
  • "He hasn't started on you yet" foreshadowing.
  • "It was my fault that she was so desperate when you met her" makes a connection between their actions.
  • "Mother-stop!" realises that her mother is walking into a trap. Here is the only point where she tries to keep information from the Inspector.

Act Three

  • "You don't seem to have learnt anything" Shiela has become the conscience of the family.
  • "It doesn't make any real difference" she has learnt a lesson.
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Shiela Birling

  • "It's you two who are childish- trying not to face the facts" she is accusing to her parents, defying the hierarchy. 
  • "I suppose we're all nice people now" still feels guilt and understands the consequences of her actions.
  • "You're just beginning to pretend all over again" she has seen that they are at fault.
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Eric Birling

Act One

  • "Here, what do you mean?" Gerald and Mr Birling are merely sharing a joke, but Eric is uneasy because of recent events.
  • "My God!" like Shiela and Gerald, Eric is genuinely upset by the death, even when he thinks he doesn't know the woman. 
  • "It isn't if you can't go and work somewhere else" Eric has sympathy with the workers.
  • "I think I'd better turn in" he panics as he suspects who the girl may be.

Act Two

Eric has no lines in Act Two

Act Three

  • "You told her! Why, you little sneak" sounds a little like his father here- thinks nobody should have let on that he was guilty.
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Eric Birling

  • "Oh my God! How stupid it all is" it distresses him greatly. He is kind at heart.
  • "You killed her [...] and your own grandchild" he blames his mother for turning her away. Very angry, shows he cares.
  • "What does it matter now whether you get a knighthood or not?" he thinks his father has the wrong priorities.
  • "He was our police inspector all right" Eric feels that the Inspector was their inspector morally.
  • "You're beginning to pretend now that nothing's really happened at all" he takes Sheila's view that they are still guilty people.
  • "It's all the same whether it's been told to a police inspector or somebody else" he sees that they have all done bad things.
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Inspector Goole

Act One

  • "One person and one line of enquiry at a time" otherwise (possibly) the whole plot would fall apart.
  • "What happened to her then maybe have determined what happened to her afterwards" shows that many people could be to blame, and many things contributed to her suicide. 
  • "After all, it is better to ask for the earth than to take it" possible reference to the Birling/Croft monopoly that could be formed. They do a lot of 'taking'.
  • "I don't see much of him" mysterious that he should see little of the chief constable.
  • "Few friends, lonely, half-starved" he is very specific, the reader wonders where he got this information from.
  • "It would do us all a bit of good it we [...] put ourselves in the place of these young women" quite preachy, shows the idea of community, interdependence.
  • "Sometimes there isn't as much difference as you think" preachy, also foreshadowing, as the Inspector believes they are all guilty.
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Inspector Goole

Act Two

  • "And you think young women ought to be protected against unpleasant and disturbing things?" he seems to believe in equality, and that Shiela should hear the truth.
  • "We'll have to share our guilt" the Inspector wants all of them to feel guilty. He doesn't want Shiela to take all of the blame as it might stop the others from doing so.
  • "They're more impressionable" some patronising towards the younger generation here.
  • "Public men [...] have responsibilities as well as privileges" preachy, shows that he thinks Mr Birling should take responsibility for others.
  • "We know what to do, don't we? Mrs Birling has just told us" reveals that Eric is to blame, and that he will share this information with the public.

Act Three

  • "You''ll be able to divide the responsibility between you when I've gone" believes they are all to blame.
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Inspector Goole

  • "Each of you helped to kill her" they are all responsible.
  • "there are millions and millions of Eva Smiths" even though they will soon discover that they have not killed one particular girl, they may affect others in their daily actions.
  • "they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish" messianic and prophetic in tone and atmosphere- seems like reference to hell or the war.
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Comments

Georgia

On page 5 you wrote that Gerald told Sheila "It's bound to be unpleasnt and disturbing" even though your explanation is partially correct the main reason Gerald told Sheila not to hear the interview is that he didn't want her to find out about his affair with daisy.

Hope this helps :)

Lawyer.com :)

You have really good quotes.

Thank you for sharing this resource. It has helped me a lot

Thanks

Issy

my exam on this is in 2 days and you have been a lifesaver! thanks so much!

louise daniels

Very good quotes, very useful as the exam is soon!! :D

James Morgan

thank you for this :D helped me alot for my exam tomorrow :)

George

Saved my ***!!! thanks so much!!! 

Seankb123

got my mock tomorrow, predicted an A*, I need to perform, no pressure...

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tommy_tt

really helped me. hope i remember them for my exam tomorrow 

Bushra Patel

This is so useful, thanks loads, although your forgot Sibil's (Mrs Birling) quote: 'Girls of that sort' and 'Girls of that cl***'. It explains how Eva was below them and how she's patronising her because of her social and economic status. 

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