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An Inspector Calls - GCSE Analysis

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Maddie Taylor

on 19 March 2015

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Transcript of An Inspector Calls - GCSE Analysis

Act 1
Act 2
Act 3
An Inspector Calls
Set in 1912, Set in 1912, ‘An Inspector Calls’ was written by J.B. Priestley:
The First World War would start in two years, showing that Birling’s optimistic view was completely incorrect;
There were strong distinctions between upper and lower class;
Women were subservient to men. All a well off women could do was get married; a poor woman was seen as cheap labour.
The ruling classes saw no need to change the status quo.
Act 1
The Birling family are holding an engagement party for Sheila and Gerald (Mr Birling is anxious to impress Gerald, Sheila awkwardly questions Gerald about his whereabouts in the summer. Eric is rather nervous.)
Mr Birling has a 'man-to-man' chat with Gerald and Eric.
Doorbell rings, Inspector Goole enters.
The Inspector announces he is investigating the suicide of a young girl.
After seeing a photograph of her, Birling admits that she used to be one of his employees.
Sheila enters and is questioned.
Sheila realises she got the young girl fired from her job at Millwards, after she was in a bad mood.
Inspector states that Eva changed her name to Daisy.
Audience is poised to find out what part Gerald had to play in her death.
Act 2
Sheila and Gerald exchange tense words.
Mrs Birling attempts to usher the Inspector away.
It’s revealed that Eric is a hardened drinker.
Gerald admits he had an affair with Daisy Renton.
Sheila is happy that he confessed, yet Gerald leaves for a walk.
Mrs. Birling’s charity work revealed. She admits that when the girl - now pregnant - had come to ask for financial assistance from the Brumley Women's Charity Organisation, she refused her.
Mrs. Birling declares that it is all the fathers responsibility. The aud. and Shiela realise the father is Eric.
Act 3
Bitter meeting between Eric and his parents.
Eric tells us that he raped the girl and they then started a relationship. He got her pregnant and stole money from his father to keep her going.
The Birlings now know that they all played a part in the girls death.
Sheila and Eric are more aware of their actions than Gerald, Mrs Birling and Mr Birling.
Inspector leaves, delivering his final speech about equality.
The family discuss the nights events, wondering whether the Inspector was real.
They realise that he showed them all a different photograph and he conned them.
Birling is delighted, assuming he is off the hook, Sheila and Eric show great remorse.
Phone rings, Birling answers a police inspector calling round to investigate the death of a young girl.
Characters Cont.
Themes in 'An Inspector Calls'
GCSE Analysis
‘An Inspector Calls’ was written in 1945:
The Second World War ended in Europe on 8 May 1945. People were still recovering;
Class distinctions had been greatly reduced as a result of two world wars;
As a result of the wars, women had earned a more valued place in society.
There was a great desire for social change.
Arthur Birling
“heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties but rather provincial in his speech.”
Prosperous factory owner, not the social equal of his wife. He is “a self made man”
First priority is to make money “It's my duty to keep labour cost down”
He tells the Inspector that he wouldn't listen to Eva Smith's demand for a wage rise “I refused, of course” and is surprised why anyone should question why.
He is optimistic about the future, yet we know that what he predicts will not become true
He refuses to accept any responsibility for Eva 's death.
The most disturbing part of the play for Birling is the scene in which he learns that his own son is shown to be a thief, a drunkard and is responsible for fathering a child. When he learns of all this he exclaims 'You damned fool - why didn't you come to me when you found yourself in this mess?‘
Eric's reply indicates that Mr Birling was never close to his son 'Because you're not the kind of chap a man could turn to when he's in trouble'. Such a response indicates that things aren't going to improve much after the play ends
Mr Birling represents Priestley's hatred of businessmen who are only interested in making money.
Mrs Sybil Birling
Cold, has a lack of conscience, unsympathetic, out of touch with reality.
It is this lack of understanding that leads to her making several snobbish comments and even to be unaware of her own son’s heavy drinking.
‘rather cold woman and her husband’s social superior’.
She shows signs of weakening when she realises that her actions had resulted in the death of her own grandchild.
Once the inspector leaves though, she quickly recovers her old self, emphasising her harsh and uncaring nature.
Sheila Birling
The attention surrounding her important engagement gives her great pleasure, showing her to be somewhat self-centred.
At the start of the play she is 'very pleased with life'. She is young, attractive and has just become engaged.
Her response to the tragedy is one of the few encouraging things to come out of the play. She is genuinely upset when she hears of Eva's death and learns from her own behaviour.
She is very distressed by the girl's suicide and thinks that her father's behaviour was unacceptable. She readily agrees that she behaved very badly and insists that she never meant the girl any harm.
Not only is she prepared to admit her faults, she also appears keen and anxious to change her behaviour in the future, 'I'll never, never do it again‘
She is mature about the breaking up of her engagement and remains calm
Eric Birling
Eric is the opposite of his sister and 'not quite at ease.'
His father does not approve of him and his mother cannot see his faults (drinking),
He has made the dead girl pregnant and stole money off of his father to support her.
Like his sister, however, he feels both a strong sense of guilt and real sympathy towards Eva Smith.
Eva Smith / Daisy Renton
We never see her but the play revolves around her,
She is linked to all the other characters, except for the inspector and Edna, who all seemed to have played a part in her downfall.
Her existence and death are in direct contrast with the wealthy lives of Birling's and Gerald Croft
Gerald Croft
Sheila’s fiancé and the son of her father’s industrial rival.
He Is respected by Mr Birling with whom he shares an opinion on the way to conduct business.
Self confident and at ease with anyone he comes into contact with are the his main traits.
He is courteous and tactful towards the Birlings.
It comes to light that he has had an affair with the dead girl who had changed her name to daisy Renton at the time.
Inspector Goole
The Inspector, named ‘Goole’, is described as creating ‘an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’.
His role grows as the play unfolds and the story of each character is revealed.
Whilst they are broken down he remains solid and despite attempts from the others to distract him from his purpose he stays this way throughout.
He is the one who makes things happen in the play.
Were it not for him none of the secrets that the others have would be revealed and it is he who demonstrates how people are responsible for the affect they have on the lives of others.
His sombre appearance in the play is in direct contrast to the Birling family.
There is an air of celebration in the room until he enters bringing with him the news of the dead girl. From then on it is he who controls everything.
Social Class
What is the play about?
Social Class
Because Eva was a woman - in the days before women were valued by society and had not yet been awarded the right to vote - she was in an even worse position than a lower class man.
Even upper class women had few choices. For most, the best they could hope for was to impress a rich man and marry well - which could explain why Sheila spent so long in Milwards.

Mr Birling is dismissive of the several hundred women in his factory: "We were paying the usual rates and if they didn't like those rates, they could go and work somewhere else."
Gerald saw Eva as "young and fresh and charming" - in other words, someone vulnerable he could amuse himself by helping.
Mrs Birling couldn't believe that "a girl of that sort would ever refuse money." Her charitable committee was a sham: a small amount of money was given to a small amount of women, hardly scratching the surface of the problem.

Set in 1912, 'An Inspector Calls' was based at a time of political turmoil. J.B. Priestley deals with issues such as the role of women and social confusion. The Titanic was a metaphor for this time period. However, when the play was first performed, the country was fresh out of war and there was a great desire for social change meaning that the themes in the play meant a lot more to the audience.
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