Who is The Inspector?
He introduces himself as Inspector Goole, a police officer who has come to investigate the background to a young woman's suicide.
What does The Inspector do in the play?
- The Inspector interrupts the Birling family gathering.
- He establishes they each did something cruel or unkind to the dead girl.
- He gradually takes control of the situation, while being polite, refuses to acknowledge that any of the others is superior to himself.
- He leaves them after making an impassioned speech about social justice.
How is the Inspector described and what does it me
A man of 'massiveness, solidity and purposefulness' (p. 11)
- The Inpector is an imposing figure who will dominate the play and will achieve his aims.
'One person and one line of enquiry at a time. Otherwise there's a muddle' (p. 12)
- He wants to do things his way, and he likes to do things on an orderly way. This allows J.B Priestly to build the play as a 'chain of events'.
'It's my duty to ask questions' (p. 15)
- He takes his responsibilities seriously, and shows the others that they haven't done so.
'He never seemed like an ordinary inspector' (p. 59)
- The word 'ordinary' could mean 'usual', or it could mean that he was somehow 'extroadinary', more than human.
Who Is Mr Birling?
Mr Birling is a successful businessman, who has been active in local politics, has been Lord Mayor of Brumley and is father of Eric and Sheila
What does Mr Birling do?
- Mr Birling hosts a dinner to celebrate Sheila's engagement to Gerald Croft.
- He declares that a man's responsibility is only to himself and his family.
- Two years ago he fired Eva Smith from his factory.
- He tries to intimitate The Inspector, but also tries to protect himself and his family.
- He becomes increasingly concerned about any possible scandal.
- He is the one who takes the final telephone call.
How is Mr Birling described and what does it mean?
'heavy-looking, rather portentous man' (p.1)
- Mr Birling's size helps to give him a threatening appearance.
'a hard-headed pratical man of business' (p. 6)
- 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 succed.
'Yes my dear, I know - I'm talking too much'. (p. 7)
- 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.
'I'm a public man-' (p. 41)
- He expects respect as he has been a member of the town council, Lord Mayor and a magistrate.
Who is Mrs Birling?
Mrs Birling is a prominent member of the Brumley Women's Charity Organization.
What does Mrs Birling do?
- Mrs Birling praises Gerald for his timing of the presentation of the ring.
- She treats The Inspector as an inferior.
- She is disgusted when she learns that Daisy Renton was Gerald's mistress.
- She persuaded the Charity not to help the girl.
- She blames the girl's death on the father of the child-who turns out to be Eric.
- She claims she was the only one not to 'give in' to The Inspector
How is Mrs Birling described and what does it mean
'a rather cold woman' and 'her husband's social superior' (p. 1)
- 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.
'Please don't contradict me like that'. (p. 30)
- She does not like, and doesn't expect, people to disagree with her. She is used to being listened toand having her opinions accepted as right.
'It's disgusting to me' (p. 38)
- 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.
'the most prominent member of the committee' (p. 43-44)
- She is the most powerful and respected member of the group whic runs the Charity, and is able to influence the decisions it makes.
Who is Sheila Birling?
Sheila is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Birling and is engaged to Gerald Croft.
What does Sheila do?
- Sheila shows genuine emotion when she hears that a young woman has died.
- She was responsible for making the girl lose her job in the dress shop.
- She realises The Inspector is not someone who can be lied to.
- She reveals that Eric drinks too much.
- She understands that the family's experience that night is meant to make them improve the way they treat others.
How is Sheila Birling described and what does it m
'Oh-how horrible! Was it an accident.' (p. 17)
- 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 shos she can't imagine someone not having a lot to live for.
'I wouldn't miss it for worlds' (p. 34)
- Although bitter about Gerald's relationship with Daisy Renton, her curiosity needs to be satisfied and she is strong enough to hear to full story.
'I had her turned out of a job.' (p. 56)
- She is prepared to accept responsibilty for what she has done.
'It' you two who are being childish-trying not to face the facts.' (p. 59)
- Sheila clearly believes that it doesn't matter wheter The Inspector is a real police officer or not. Her parents are relived that they might prevent a scandal, but she is concerned that they all harmed someone.
Who is Eric Birling?
Eric is Sheila's brother. He is employed in his father's business, drinks more than is good for him and is father of Daisy Renton's unborn child.
What does Eric do?
- Eric drinks too much at the family dinner.
- He met the girl in the bar of the Palace Theatre and made her pregnant.
- He stole money from his father's firm to give to the girl.
- He accuses his mother of killing her own unborn grandchild.
- He accepts his guilt, whether The Inspector is a real police officer or not.
How is Eric Birling described and what does it mea
'Just keep quiet, Eric, and don't get excited' (p. 13)
- Mr Birling recognises that Eric has had too much o drink and might easily say something he shouldn't.
'That's something this public-school-and-Varisty life you've had doesn't seem to teach you' (p. 16)
- Eric has been to an expensive school and then university, but Mr Birling feels he knows more of life than his son.
'Besides, you're not the type-you don't get drunk' (p. 50)
- We know that Eric does get drunk, and that the opposite of what his mother says is true.
'Your trouble is you've been spoilt' (p. 54)
- Mr BIrling thinks that by being the boss's son Eric has had too easy a life.
Who is Gerald Croft?
Gerald is the son of a wealthy industrialist and business rival of Mr Birling, and he has just become engaged to Sheila Birling.
What does Gerald do?
- Gerald gives Sheila an engagement ring during the dinner party.
- He agrees with Mr Birling about the way a business should be run.
- He rescued Daisy Renton from the drunken Alderman Meggarty.
- He kept Daisy as a mistress for six months, then broke off thier relationship.
- He finds out that a police sergeant has never heard of an Inspector Goole.
- He telephones the infirmary and learns that no girl died that day.
How is Gerald Croft described and what does it mea
'easy, well-bred young man-about-town' (p. 2)
- Gerald gets on easily with people, is self-confident and assured, and looks as if he knows a lot about life.
'That was clever of you Gerald' (p. 5)
- He has sense of what to do and when to do it, and he clearly has the approval of Mrs Birling.
'You're just the kind of son-in-law I always wanted'. (p.4)
- Mr Birling sees Gerald as being like himself-a determined man of business; he sees the engagement as bringing the two family businesses together.
'Im rather more-upset-by this business than I probably appear to be-' (p. 39)
- 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 strong feeling of responsibility for what has happened.
Eva Smith/Daisy Renton
Who is Eva Smith/Daisy Renton?
These are two names by which the girl who suffered at the hands of the BIrling family and Gerald was known.
What happens to her?
- Mr Birling sacked her from his factory for leading a strike for better pay.
- She was sacked from a dress shop after Sheila unjustly complained about her.
- She became Gerald Croft's mistress.
- She was made pregnant by Eric Birling.
- She applied to a charity for help, but Mrs Birling refused that help.
- She commited suicide by swallowing disinfectant.
How is Eva Smith described and what does it mean?
'a lively good-looking girl-country-bred' and a 'good worker too' (p. 14)
- Mr Birling had a good opinion of her. Being bred in the country made her naive, less worldly-wise than a city girl. As a good worker she was a potential 'leading operator'.
'She'd had a lot to say-far too much-so she had to go' (p. 15)
- She had spoken up for the other girls who were on a strike and was showing leadership qualitites against Mr Birling, and he didn't like that.
'She was very pretty and looked as if she could take care of herself' (p. 24)
- But Sheila judged the girl by her appearance, and she did not think about the difficulties the girl might face in getting another job.
'Now she had to try something else'. (p. 25)
- The words sound innocent, but the 'something else' was meeting men in a place used by prostitutes.