'An Inspector Calls' Key Quotes

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Inspector Goole:

  • "We hear a sharp ring of a front door bell. Birling stops to listen." -authority established before he enters. Dramatic, dangerous. Presence is felt.
  • man of "massiveness, solidity and purposefulness" - The Inspector is an imposing figure; dominates the atmosphere. Solid;he is firm in his purpose, An opaque character.
  • "One person and one line of enquiry at a time. Otherwise there's a muddle" - Controlling, totally sure of his authority. "One" establishes that he works alone; he does not need anyone to tell him what to do. Omniscient.
  • "Burnt her inside out" - Emotionally unattached, unfeeling. Professional, blunt and factual.
  • "Do you remember her, Mr Birling?" - omniscience. He knows the story; isn't looking for answers, but acceptance. He is accusatory; highlighting unjust, morally wrong actions.
  • "And why did you do that?" - simple, one syllable words make it seem blatant that the family is to blame. Makes it clear; unravelling secrets until everyone is bare.
  • The Final Speech from Inspector is very important as it provides J. B. Priestley's message clearly to the audience:
    • "One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us"
    • "their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness,"
  • "the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." 

Arthur Birling:

  • "heavy-looking, rather pretentious man" - Only intimidating in appearance? Internally weak. Only "heavy-looking"; he is "pretentious". The solidity is a facade.
  • "a hard-headed practical man of business" - doesn't let sentiment get in the way of whatever needs to be done to succeed. Ruthless; ethics and morals are nonexistent to him. Certain and direct tone - intimidating.
  • "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 is arrogant and self-preserving.
  • "Unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable" - in reference to the Titanic which was yet to make it's Maiden voyage. The audience knows the Titanic sank; the constrast between fact and belief makes him seem ridiciulous and his views irrelevant. Naivety evident. (dramatic irony).
  • "I say there isn't a chance of war" - Mr Birling's views are again proved wrong. The play is set in 1912, just before the first world war. Just because Mr Birling is middle class and supposedly better opinionated, doesn't always make him right.

Mrs Birling:

  • "a rather cold woman" and "her husbands social superior" - Mrs Birling is not a friendly person and rarely shows any affection. Contradicts her own traditionalist views: where women should respect their husbands and be benevolent, she makes the social divide clear and seemse heartless. The contradiction shows the stupidity in traditionalism.
  • "You're not the type - you don't get drunk" - she denies what she doesn't want to believe. Pretentious; proves that her arrogance is empty because, after seeing her son's mistakes,


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