An Inspector Calls is a dramatic play written by J. B. Priestly, it has several themes included in it, one of which is responsibility. The play points out the need for a sense of personal responsibility in every member of society. Not only should you be responsible for your individual actions but also how they may effect/hurt other people. At the end of the play not every character feels as responsible or regretful as they should for Eva Smith’s death. J. B Priestly uses the character to show the audience a lesson. The way he phrases his words and uses the stage directions create a more real and dramatic effect.
There are five main characters in the play and all are questioned individually during the inspector’s stay. As the inspector is at the Birling household he tries to show the family how the upper and lower classes are not right in society and everyone is responsible for each other. In his concluding speech he says, ‘ We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. ‘ Remorse is essential before the healing can begin and the family needed to be taught this lesson. Mr. Birling is head of the household.
He runs a very successful business and is always thinking of ways for it to become more successful, he is also strongly set in his ways of upper and lower class. He is the first person questioned over Eva’s death because he set off the chain of reactions, although he doesn’t believe he is to blame fo...
r the death. Even in general chat with friends he still refers to the upper and lower classes. His daughter Sheila is engaged to Gerald Croft and it comes across that he is generally happy for the loving couple, until he, Gerald and Eric are alone sitting down drinking port where he proposes a business opportunity to Gerald.
Mr. Birling says, ‘ … Your father and I have been friendly rivals in business for some time now – though Crofts Limited are both older and bigger than Birling Company- and now you’ve brought us together, and perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together… ‘ Mr. Birling is a greedy, snobby pig and is only interested in money and how much higher he ranks to other people. When the Inspector arrives Mr. Birling is shocked by the way the inspector talks down to him and speaks as if he is a lower class than the inspector himself.
He is very impatient and oblivious when he is told about Eva’s suicide ‘Yes, yes. Horrid business. But I don’t understand why you should come here inspector…. ‘ This statement just proves he has no heart about things that don’t concern him. The Inspector starts going into detail about how the girl kept a diary and left some letters. He pulls a picture of Eva out of a wallet and shows Mr. Birling; careful to make sure the others don’t see it. When the Inspector continues to explain Eva Smith worked a
the Birlings Factory and was sacked for protesting about minimum wage, Mr. Birling finally admits he knows whom she is and did sack her for being one of the four or five ringleaders.
Mr. Birling said confidently to the inspector that ‘ She’d had a lot to say-far to much-so she had to go. ‘ Mr. Birling warns the Inspector that he gets on well with the constable and they play golf regularly, but to Mr. Birlings dislike the inspector is unfazed. Eric continues to add comments and stress that it wasn’t right that his father sacked her. Mr. Birling starts to get rather angry ‘ I told the girl to clear out and she went, he is showing no remorse for this girl’s suicide and still feels he is not to blame.
Sheila then enters the room and is curious to see what is going on and find out details, but Mr. Birling wants the inspector to leave and keep everything quiet, ‘ Nothing to do with you, Sheila. Run along. ‘, but Sheila continues to pursue her interest and Mr. Birlings questioning is over. Although Mr. Birling shows no regret, Sheila is far more compassionate and caring before she even realises she herself has something to do with the suicide.
She shows an interest in the girl, ‘ Oh-how horrible! Was it an accident? ‘ It’s just that I cant help thinking about this girl destroying herself so horribly. ‘ she is showing she is already concerned for this girl and appears distressed when the details of how Eva killed herself really hits her. Sheila appears slightly confused and puzzled about the inspector accusing the family about Eva Smith’s death and Sheila says, ‘ You talk as if we were responsible,’ she is slightly angry for being accused of putting someone into a suicidal state, when she doesn’t understand what she did do to this girl, she hasn’t even realised she knows the girl.
When the inspector explains what her father, Mr. Birling did, she like Eric can see his mistake straight away ‘But these aren’t cheap labour- they’re girls. ‘ Before Sheila is questioned she knows that everyone is human and the employees aren’t objects or things you can treat unfairly. Then the inspector starts to explain what happened after Eva was sacked from the Birlings Company and how she was out of work for two months before being hired at Milwards. The inspector continues about how Eva was sacked from Milwards because someone complained about her.
The family straight away assume she did something wrong but he corrects them and says that she did her job very well. Sheila now realises it was she who got Eva sacked, she explains to everyone about her day at Milwards a few months ago. She was with her mother, Mrs. Birling, and they were looking at some hats, Sheila spotted one she liked the look of but her mother and the older shop assistant were positive it wouldn’t suit her but she still insisted trying it on, as soon as it touched her head she new it looked silly but she didn’t want to