PLOT SUMMARY: WHAT HAPPENS IN AN INSPECTOR CALLS?

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ACT ONE: MEETING THE CHARACTERS

  • The Birling family and Gerald Croft are celebrating Sheila's engagement to Gerald.
  • Mr Birling makes pompous speeches outlining his views on the advance in science, new inventions and the relationship between bosses and workers. He says they should ignore the 'cranks' (p.10) who claim everybody has a responsibilty to care for everybody else.
  • The evening is interrupted by the arrival of a police inspector named Goole making enquiries about the suicide of a young woman, Eva Smith.
  • Shown a photograph of the girl, Mr Birling admits that he employed her in his factory but sacked her for being one of the leaders of a strike for high wages.
  • Sheila and Eric both feel that their father has acted harshly, while Gerald supports Mr Birling's claim that he acted responsibly.
  • Sheila is hsown the photograph and realises that, driven by jealousy and ill temper, she later had the girl sacked from her job as a shop assisant.
  • When Gerald hears that the girl changed her name to Daisy Renton, his reaction shows that he too has known the girl.
  • The Inspector suggests that many people share responsibilty for the misery which prompted Eva Smith/Daisy Renton to end her life.
  • Left alone with Gerald, Sheila warns him not to try to hide from anything from the Inspector.

ACT TWO: MORE REVELATIONS

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