Themes within An Inspector Calls

Just a few key Themes, along with Quotes to support these Themes. Remember, you must be able to explain these quotes and the meanings, in order to get the marks. Point, Evidence, Explain.

If anyone has the Heinemann version of the play and would like page numbers to the quotes. Just drop a comment and let me know, then I'll edit them in.

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  • Created by: Bexie
  • Created on: 21-05-12 18:32

Responsibility and Duty

Responsibility and Duty are portrayed in the majority of the characters within the play. The Inspector shows us how seriously he takes his work and the case at hand. Whilst Sheila also gives us an impression of responsibility, with feel guilty of the girls death.

1) "When you're married you'll realise that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on business." - Mrs Birling
2) "What do you mean by saying that? You talk as if we wee responsible." - Sheila
3) "I suppose I ought really. I'm sorry Sheila." - Gerald
4) "I insisted on giving her enough money to keep her going - until she refused any more." - Eric
5) "Nothing less than a cry for help." - Gerald.
6) "He's admitted be. Was responsible for the girl's condition." - Birling
7) "She feels responsible. And if she leaves us now, and doesn't hear any more, then she'll feel she's entirely to blame, she'll be alone with her responsibility." - Inspector
8) "I discharged her from my employment nearly two years ago." - Birling
9) "I'm waiting" "Waiting for what?" "To do my duty." - Inspector and Mrs Birling

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Capitalism and Socialism

Both of these, are ideas that people would take to extremes during the era of the book. Capitalism is the idea that we should look out for ourselves and our family, but no one else. We earns our money and therefore deserve it. Socialism is the opposite of this, with the idea of living together as a community, all looking out for and protecting each other.

1) "Probably a socialist or some sort of crank - he talked like one." - Birling
2) "Not if it was just after the holidays. They'd all be broke - if I know them." - Gerald
3) "I must say, Sybil, that when this comes out at the inquest, it isn't going to do us much good. The press might easily take it up - " - Birling
4) "you're offering money at the wrong time." - Inspector
5) "But the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd think everybody has to look after everyone else, as if we were all mixed up together like bees in a hive - community and all that nonsense." - Birling

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Morality and Justice

Morality is the idea of right and wrong, and Justice is the actions people take in order to try and restore balance. Both of these are another theme portrayed in the play.

1) "No, not really. I intended to pay it back." - Eric
2) "The girl had been causing trouble in the works." - Birling
3) "I don't see why she should have been sacked just because she'd a bit more spirit than the others." - Eric
4) "I knew there was something fishy about that time. And now at least you've been honest." - Sheila
5) "y'know, we're respectable citizens and not criminals." - Gerald
6) "Well I only did what any employer might have done." - Birling
7) "No hushing up, eh? Make an example of the young man, eh? Public confession of responsibility - um?" - Inspector
8) "He ought to be dealt with very severely." - Mrs. Birling
9) "Simply because I've done nothing wrong - and you know it." - Mrs Birling

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Mainly focuses on how the women are treated and the views of women in a lower class.

1) "but these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people." - Sheila
2) "And you think all young women ought to be protected against unpleasant and disturbing things." - Inspector
3) "I protest against the was in which my daughter, a young unmarried girl, is being dragged into this." - Birling
4) "Clothes mean something different to a woman. Not just something to wear - and not only something to make 'em look prettier - but - well, a sort of sign or token of their self-respect." - Birling
5) "Sheila, take your mother along to the drawing room." - Birling
6) "Just used her for the end of a stupid drunken evening, as if she was an animal, a thing, not a person." - Inspector
7) "no - I mean about this girl - Eva Smith. Why shouldn't she try for higher wages?" - Eric

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The Birling family are a medium-high class family and tend to look down upon those of a lower class. Several things within the play, give us the impression of the social differences between Eva and the Birlings/Crofts.

1) "Why shouldn't they try for higher wages? We try for the highest possible prices." - Eric
2) "Not if it was just after the holidays. They'd all be broke - if I know them." - Gerald
3) "Your father and I have been friendly business rivals for some time now." - Birling
4) "One of the things that prejudiced me against her case." - Mrs Birling
5) "Giving us the port, Edna?" - Birling

The fact that the family are able to afford good quality port and have their own business, means that they must be a wealthy family. Unlike people such as Eva Smith, who have to struggle in order to get good wages.

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The age difference between the members of the Birling family, are hinted at in several places of the play.

1) "You're not the kind of father a chap could go to when he's in trouble - that's why." - Eric
2) "Now look at the pair of them - the famous younger generation who know it all. And they can't even take a joke." - Birling
3) "Well I'm old enough to be married, aren't I, and I'm not married." - Eric
4) "But take my word for it, you youngsters - and I've learnt in the good hard school of experience." - Birling
5) "That's something this public-school-and-varsity life you've had doesn't seem to teach you." - Birling
6) "You're behaving like a hysterical child tonight." - Mrs Birling
7) "He means that I'm getting hysterical now." - Sheila

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The Truth

One of the harder themes in my opinion, as it has several more meanings. The truth of what really happened to Eva? The truth of finding out who the Inspector is? The truth of what each character is like behind the mask? Either way, I've still picked out a few quotes, which may be useful.

1) "In fact, in a kind of way, you might be said to have been jealous of her." - Sheila
2) "Were you seeing her last spring and summer, during that time when you hardly came near me and said you were so busy? Were you? ... Yes, of course you were." - Sheila
3) "Just remember that this girl was going to have a child." - Inspector.
4) "Mother, I think it was cruel and vile." - Sheila
5) "Besides, you're not the types - you don't get drunk -" "Of course her does, I told you he did. " - Mrs Birling and Sheila.

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kierann hills


Great them justification with good quotes to support them.




Paul Dutton


A useful and informative guide to the main themes of the play.



yay good revision for my English mock



very very helpful



just a prank bro






This is good banter

Mc Seal


its all banter



yo m8, cheeky 1v1? ;) #rekt






Its alright, I would prefer less quotes and more infomation



can you add explanation for each quote






Thanks so much!! 

yasmin kinsey


not great quotes but thanks anyway



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