English - An Inspector Calls

Brief summary of the themes, characters and context

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Inspector

1) A man of "massiveness, solidity and purposefulness" (p.11) 
- The Inspector is an imposing figure who will dominate the play and will achieve his aims
 

2) "One person and one line of enquiry" (p.12)
- He wants to do things his way, likes things in an orderly fashion. This allows J.B Priestley to build the play as a 'chain of events'

3) "It's my duty to ask questions" (p.15)
- He takes his responsibilities seriously, and shows the others that they haven't

4) "He never seemed like an ordinary police inspector-" (p.59)
- The word 'ordinary' could mean 'usual', or it could mean that he was somehow 'extraordinary', more than human.  

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Mr Birling

1) "heavy-looking, rather portentous man"
- Mr Birling's size helps to give him a threatening appearance

2) "a hard-headed practical man of business"
- He thinks of himself as a man who does well in business, and who doesn't let sentiment get in the way of whatever needs to be done to succeed

3) "Yes, my dear, I know - I'm talking too much."
- He likes to air his views and is aware that he tends to monopolise the conversation, suggesting he has a high opinion of his own importance

4) "I'm a public man -"
- He expects respect as he has been a member of the town council, Lord Mayor and a magistrate 

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Mrs Birling

1) "a rather cold woman" and "her husband's social superior"
- Mrs Birling is not a friendly person and rarely shows any affection. She looks down on most people and expects the Inspector to treat her with respect 

2) "please don't contradict me like that"
- She does not like, and doesn't expect, people to disagree with her. She is used to being listened to and having her opinions accepted as right

3) "It's disgusting to me."
- Even though Gerald comes from a good family and meets with her approval as a future son-in-law, she cannot accept Gerald's affair

4) "the most prominent member of the committee"
- She is the most powerful and respected member of the group which runs the Charity, and is able to influence the decisions it makes 

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Sheila Birling

1) "Oh - how horrible! Was it an accident?"
- Aspirant alliteration. Sheila feels shock at the death of a young woman. She is naive to suggest that someone could drink a fatal amount of disinfectant 'by accident', but it shows she can't imagine not having a lot to live for

2) "I wouldn't miss it for worlds"
- Although bitter about Gerald's relationship with Daisy Renton, her curiosity needs to be satisfied and she is strong enough to hear the full story

3) "I had her turned out of a job"
- She is prepared to accept responsibility for what she has done

4) "it's you two who are being childish - trying not to face the facts"
- Sheila clearly believes that it doesn't matter whether the Inspector was real or not. Her parents are relieved that they might prevent a scandal, but she is concerned that they all harmed someone.

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Eric Birling

1) "Just keep quiet, Eric, and don't get excited"
- Mr Birling recognises that Eric has had too much to drink and might easily say something he shouldn't

2) "That's something this public-school-and-Varsity life you've had doesn't seem to teach you"
- Eric has been to an expensive school and then university, but Mr Birling feels he knows more of life than his son

3) "Besides, you're not the type - you don't get drunk -"
- We know that Eric does get drunk, and that the opposite of what Mrs.B says is true

4) "Your trouble is - you've been spoilt" 
- Mr Birling thinks that by being the boss's son Eric has had too easy a life 

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Gerald Croft

1) "easy, well-bred young man-about-town"
- Gerald gets on easily with people, is self-confident and assured, and looks as if he knows a lot about life

2) "That was clever of you Gerald" 
- He has a sense of what to do and when to do is, and he clearly has the approval of Mrs Birling

3) "You're just the kind of son-in-law I always wanted"
- Mr Birling sees Gerald as being like himself - a determined man of business; he sees the engagement as bring the two family businesses together

4) "I'm rather more - upset - by this business than I probably appear to be"
- Gerald has been hiding his feelings, like an English gentleman is expected to do. Deep down he is greatly saddened by the girl's death, and he has a strong feeling of responsibility for what has happened 

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Responsibility

1) Abusing Responsibilities
- "...don't talk nonsense" "I did my duty"

2) Responsible For Actions
- "everything we said happened..."

3) Privileges = Responsibility
- "public men...have responsibilities as well as privileges"

4) Collective Responsibility
- "we are...one body" "you lot may be letting yourselves...but I can't...we did her in all right" 'you' 'i' 'we' "we are responsible for each other" (inspector)

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Power

"I left them talking about clothes again"
- Men separate from women
- Patriarchal society
- People abuse their power
- Employer has power over their wages
- Eva was easily sacked over strike 

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Community

"There's every excuse for what both your mother and I did"
- Action would have been acceptable for their community

"We don't live alone...members of one body"

- Last things he says to them - sums up his contribution 

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Society

"a girl in her position" 
- Mrs Birling refers to class on a number of occasions to distant herself
- Treats them like the don't have feelings "Edna'll answer it" 

"run along"
- As she's a woman - treats them like children 

"Left 'em talking about clothes again"
"Token of their self-respect" 
- As if they have nothing better to talk about 

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Hypocrisy

"Must obviously be a selfish..."
- Emphasising fact - Gerald judged her for doing something to Eva, but now he expects her not to judge him for it

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Guilt/Conscience

Works in Generations - 
1)
Mr & Mrs B - not much guilt - "I think she only had herself to blame"

2) Gerald "We're respectable citizens and not criminals" > (distressed) "sorry-I-well" 

3) Sheila & Eric - "how horrible" - "they're people" - "nothing to learn" 

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Comments

Matthew

good quotes!

Emily

Very good quotes thank you :) 

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