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AN INSPECTOR

CALLS
JB PRIESTLEY
FINAL REVISION AND
P R E PA R AT I O N F O R T H E G C S E E X A M
EXAMPLE QUESTIONS

In Act 2 of An Inspector Calls, Sheila says to her mother, Mrs


Birling,
But we really must stop these silly pretences. How does
Priestley
show, in his presentation of Mrs Birling, that she often pretends
to be
something she is not?
OR
How important do you think social class is in An Inspector Calls
and
how does Priestley present ideas about social class?
EXAMPLE QUESTIONS
Remind yourself of the ending of the play from The telephone rings
sharply......... to ......the curtain falls. How do you respond to this as
an
ending to An Inspector Calls and how does Priestley make you
respond
as you do by the ways he writes?
OR
In the opening stage directions, Priestley refers to Eric as not quite
at
ease, half shy, half assertive. How does Priestley present these and
other
ideas about Eric in An Inspector Calls?
EXAMPLE QUESTIONS -

How does Priestley present ideas about gender in Ann


Inspector Calls?
OR
What do you think is the importance of Eva Smith in An
Inspector
Calls and how does Priestley present her?
EXAMPLE QUESTIONS

Arthur Birling describes himself as a hard-headed,


practical man of
business. How does Priestley present this and other
views of Arthur
Birling in An Inspector Calls?

OR

How does Priestley present ideas about inequality in An


Inspector Calls?
Tell me in less
that 50 words,
what the play is
about
Who is J.B.Priestley?

What do you know


about him?
J.B.PRIESTLEY
Born 1884, Bradford.
Was in the army during WW1 he
was wounded and effected by the gas
and withdrew from active service.
After the war he went to Cambridge
and did a degree in Modern History
and Political Science.
After University he worked as a
journalist and a theatre critic.
LINKS BETWEEN
J.B.PRIESTLEY AND AIC
He lived through the time period the play is
set.
He fought in the war that the Inspector
predicts. Fire and blood and anguish.
Priestley saw these sufferings first hand
and wanted to avoid further wars.
He was always interesting in historical
events and politics.
His play represents the conflicting views on
Capitalism and Socialism.
What is the social
background/cont
ext of the play?
POLITICS IN THE PLAY?
Capitalism Socialism
Profit is the priority Production, distribution
Sees life as a and trade should be
competition publicly owned for the
Survival of the fittest good of the community
as a whole
Private businesses
Everyone has a
control trade and
industry collective responsibility
We should all look after
Represented in
Priestleys time by the each other
Conservatives Represented in
Right Wing Priestleys time by the
Labour party
What is the social
background/cont
ext of the play?
SOCIAL AND HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Written in 1946 but set in 1912 written just after WW2 and set just before WW1.
By setting the play in the past Priestley can use DRAMATIC IRONY the audience
knows what has happened but the characters in the play do not.
Early 20th Century:
Saw the start of a move away from an elite few controlling everything to society being
more equal.
An increase in the number of strikes
Women were becoming more demanding of equality - suffragettes became militant
during this time.
After the time the play is set there was an economic depression not helped by the
cost of war.
WW1 1914 to 1918
WW1 is used in AIC to show that mankind needs to change. Mr Birlings comments
make him look foolish to the audience. The reference to war may also remind the
audience what happens when people stop caring for each other and instead seek
personal power.
Titanic sank on the 14th or 15th April 1912.
1940 Winston Churchill becomes Prime Minister.
1945 a socialist Government comes to power.
CAPITALISM
Mr Birling represents a capitalist society.
Capitalism is an economic system that
is based on the private ownership of
industry.
Problems with capitalism:
Leads to the few exploiting the many
Those who have the money have the power
to stop others from sharing their wealth
No social mobility
The richer get richer and the poorer get
poorer
SOCIALISM
Socialism is the belief that as a society,
we have to look after one another.
Under socialism the rich are responsible
for looking after the poor.
Taxation is sometimes higher in a
socialist state so that the Welfare State
can be paid for ( e.g. NHS, schools,
unemployment benefit).
Socialists do notWhich
want acharacter
class system
represents socialism in
the play?
1912 VS 1946
1912
Country is still benefitting from new technology
Still very Victorian society
Rigid class system
Conservative politics and government (individual
responsibility)

1945
2 World Wars had taken place
Class system was less rigid
Women could now vote
Politics were more socialist (collective responsibility)
PLOT SUMMARY ACT 1
The Birling family (Arthur, Sybil, Sheila and Eric) and Gerald Croft,
are having a meal to celebrate the engagement of Sheila and
Gerald.
Arthur Birling makes a toast. In it, he informs the younger
members of the family that their future looks bright and that it is
important to look after themselves. Priestley makes use of
dramatic irony to undermine Arthur Birling Birling says there
wont be a war and talks about the success of the Titanic.
Just as Mr. Birling says, a man has to mind his own business and
look after himself and his own, the doorbell rings. Shortly after,
the maid shows Inspector Goole into the room.
The Inspector explains that a young woman has died after drinking
bleach. He questions Mr. Birling, who admits to having her sacked
after she was involved in a strike at the factory. The Inspector then
questions Sheila, who admits to having the girl sacked from
Milwards because she was jealous that the girl looked better in the
dress she liked than she did.
PLOT SUMMARY ACT 2
The Inspectors attention falls on Gerald. When questioned, he
admits that he knew the girl. After meeting her at the Palace
Music Hall in Brumley, Gerald set her up in the flat of a friend and
they became lovers. After a happy period, it came to an end and
Eva / Daisy left Brumley and went to the seaside. After the
questioning, Gerald goes for a walk.
The Inspector questions Mrs. Birling next. She admits that the girl
came to her charitable organisation and asked for help, as she
was pregnant and could not ask the father for money. Mrs. Birling
believes the girl is putting on graces and is offended that she
uses the name Mrs. Birling. She therefore persuades the other
members of the charity to refuse her request. Mrs. Birling is
defiant and refuses to accept she did anything wrong. She tells
the Inspector that the father of the child is to blame and it is the
Inspectors duty to arrest him.
Instead of leaving as Mrs. Birling hoped, the Inspector waits to
do his duty.
PLOT SUMMARY- ACT 3
Eric returns to the house and into the firing line. He knows
that his secret is already out but does explain what happened
he had an affair with the girl and she fell pregnant. He
offered to marry her but she declined, knowing that he didnt
love her. Eric gave her money to begin with, which he stole
from his fathers business. When she realised the money was
stolen, she refused to take any more.
The Birling family appear to have learnt their lesson and seem
sorry for what they have done. The Inspector tells them that
we all have to look after each other and that there are plenty
of other people in the world like Eva Smith. He then leaves.
Shortly after, Gerald Croft returns from his walk. He brings
into doubt the identity of the Inspector (having spoken to a
policeman who has never heard of him) and even explains
that it is possible that Eva Smith never existed.
PLOT SUMMARY ACT 3
CONT.
Quickly convinced by Geralds arguments, Mr. and Mrs.
Birling decide that it was a joke and laugh the whole
thing off. They have not really learnt anything.
Eric and Sheila are not so easily swayed. They argue with
their parents that this doesnt change anything they
are still responsible for the terrible things they did.
The telephone rings it is for Mr. Birling. A young woman
has just died at the infirmary and a police inspector is on
his way to the house.
The play ends on this bombshell.
WHO ARE THE
MAIN
CHARACTERS???
ARTHUR BIRLING
What does his first line tell us about his character?
Giving us the Port, Edna? Thats right. How do you
think this would be spoken?
What do you think of Arthur Birling and why? You can
refer to the words below, however you must justify
your opinions.

Traditional Rich Snotty

Overbeari
Selfish
ng
MR BIRLING

1.Birling is arrogant
2.Birling is insecure
3.Birling is selfish
4.Birling only cares about appearances, not reality
5.Birling cares about social status
6.Birling is used to getting his own way
7.Birling cares more about his business than his family
8.Birlings attitude is unchanged by the events of the play
SYBIL BIRLING
What do we notice about the role of Sybil in the play? Is
she more or less important that her husband?
Do you think she is a good mother? Explain why
Snobby and stubborn and at times prudish (doesnt like
slang!)
Yawn!! (she isnt a very exciting character!)
Believes she is always right (she doesnt change her opinion
for anyone!) and BORING!
Ignorant She is set in her own ways and class, and doesnt
believe a girl can have fine feelings (completely
disinterested in anyone that is not within her class)
Lifeless and uncaring She dismisses Eva/Daisy as just
another girl of that class or Loyal ( to Mr. B)
SYBIL BIRLING
1.Mrs Birling is arrogant
2.Mrs Birling is selfish
3.Mrs Birling feels that she has married beneath
her social status
4.Mrs Birling is not a good mother
5.Mrs Birlings charity work is conducted for
selfish reasons
6.Mrs Birlings attitude is unchanged by the
events of the play
SHEILA BIRLING
Sheila is an example of a perfect daughter
brought up in the Twentieth Century (within her
social class- completely spoilt!)
1. Discuss from our initial impressions what type of
person we think Sheila is Lively? Happy? Unselfish? A
good daughter?
2. Sheila felt threatened by a younger, prettier girl when
Sshe
poiltwent shopping in Milwards. What does this tell us
about her character?
Honest (once she realises the effect her actions have had on
Eva/Daisy
Emotional (capable of feelings and is true to them, unlike the
other characters)
Instinctive (She sees what the inspector is trying to do, and
understands his point)
Lively
SHEILA BIRLING

1.Sheila is a perceptive young woman


2.Sheila is the first to see the truth
3.Sheila learns from the Inspectors visit
4.Sheila will behave differently in future
5.Sheila and Erics relationship is strengthened by the
Inspectors visit
6.How is Sheila and Geralds relationship affected by the
Inspector's visit?
ERIC
Sheila His dad
refers to still sees
him as him as a
poor Eric. boy.
He is like the Black Sheep of the family (They dont know their
son as well as they think!)
1. Priestley uses the stage directions not quite at ease, half shy,
half assertive to describe Eric. What could this tell us about his
character?
2. He is a heavy drinker. What could be the reasons for this?
3. Do you think Eric is a good character so far?
4. .. Later in in the Play we see that Eric represents two types
of characters:
5. Victim and Villain (Can you predict why!?) In Act 3,
He got
Mrs. Birling
Eva/Daisy
reveals I
pregnant
am
ashamed of
ERIC BIRLING
1.Erics heavy drinking is obvious from the
start of the play
2.Eric tries his best to make amends for
his behaviour
3.Eric learns from the Inspectors visit
4.Eric will behave differently in future
5.What was Erics attitude to Eva Smith?
GERALD
The son that Mr. Birling never had! (and he makes this
obvious!)
He is to marry Sheila
He is wealthy, handsome and an Idealistic match for Sheila
A younger version of Mr. Birling (What inspector Goole is trying
to get rid of!). This represents that something needs to change
in society else attitudes of snobbery and traditionalism will
continue to be passed down the generation.
Dishonest!
Hypocrite! ( The inspector asks Gerald: You think young
women ought to be protected against unpleasant and
disturbing things?
Hadand Gerald replies
a personal yes,with
relationship however.. It was
Eva/Daisy- Why
Gerald who diddoanwe
unpleasant thing to cared
think he actually women forlike Eva/Daisy!
her? Could this
change our opinion of him?
EVA SMITH/
DAISY RENTON

1. Who was she? Do we know? Could she just be a


representative of all working class women who are
victims of society?
2. Although we never meet her ( because we are told by
She was. the inspector that she committed suicide), she is an
Pretty important character because she is used as a device to
A Victim try and change the Birlings. The inspector says: There
Depressed are millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left and
Working their chances of happiness are entwined with our
class lives. What does this say about the role of the Birling
family, or the upper class families?
3. Big dark eyes, Soft brown hair , Fresh and
Did she charming What do these descriptions make you feel
deserve about her character?
everythi
. She only became a prostitute because Mr. Birling sacked
ng that
happene her from the factory and Sheila got her fired from
d to her? Milwards for looking at her n a funny way. This was her
INSPECTOR
Mysterious
GOOLE
1. Goole- Ghouls ? Is there any link here?-
Mysterious!
2. He has a natural authority throughout the play.
How do you think he achieves this?
- Tone of voice?
- Language?
- Body language?
Moral
He has authority, telling Eric to wait his turn (He is not afraid of
the Birlings)
He asks personal questions and demands answers ( They are not
use to this!)
He uses emotive language (tries to make them feel sorry and guilty
for Evas suicide)
- Pretty and lively who died in misery and agony (about Eva/Daisy)
- Alone, friendless, almost penniless, desperate (about Eva/Daisy)
He challenges, questions, demands and makes an impact. What do
Right!
you think he represents? Discuss!! Aggressive
WHAT COULD AN INSPECTOR CALLS SAY
ABOUT THE ROLES OF MEN AND WOMEN AT
THE START OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY?

WOMEN MEN

Nave
Traditional (Gerald and Arthur)
Silly
Have a more important voice than women
Not that important
Leaders
Marry into money
Occupied with business and work
Conform to stereotypes ( Act how society sees
Different rules (Gerald and Arthur allowed to
them to do so go shopping, marry, cry and act
sleep around before marriage)
hysterical)
ADDITIONAL CHARACTER
INFORMATION
ON THE NEXT FEW SLIDES IS SOME MORE INFORMATION
ABOUT EACH CHARACTER FOR YOU TO USE AS YOUR
REVSION.
MR BIRLING
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 costs
down'
Welcomes Croft into his family as he represents a business link
between his firm and that of Gerald Croft's father (a rival)
Has an honest approach to life, 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.
Strongly believes that 'a man has to make his own way'. He
does not consider the harm he may cause to other people
because of his attitude. He is a 'hard headed business man '
He is a magistrate and former mayor who is looking forward to
receiving a knighthood
MR BIRLING CONTINUED
He is very aware that Gerald's mother is rather against her son's
marriage because she believes him to be marrying beneath him socially
He is optimistic about the future, yet we know that what he predicts will
not become true (NB dramatic irony)
He refuses to accept any responsibility for Eva 's death. He becomes
increasing annoyed by the Inspector's questioning and Eric's
unsympathetic attitude
He tries to threaten the Inspector by talking about his friendship with the
Chief Constable
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 CONTINUED
He represents a very unattractive sort of person. At the end of
the play he grudgingly wishes things were better but even
here he still thinks in terms of money 'Look, Inspector - I'd
give thousands'
He continues to ignore the shameful things that his family has
done. When it appears that the Inspector might be a hoaxer
he is happy to believe that everything is as it was a few hours
ago. He copies the Inspector and laughs when he remembers
the faces of Eric and Sheila and accuses them of being 'the
famous younger generation who know it all'. This is an
example of pride coming before a fall, a moment later of
course he is panicking as the phone rings again
Mr Birling represents Priestley's hatred of businessmen who
are only interested in making money. He will never alter his
ways and it is left to the younger generation to learn from
their mistakes
SHEILA BIRLING
At the start of the play she is 'very pleased with life'. She is young,
attractive and has just become engaged
Her happiness is soon to be destroyed as is her faith in her family
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.
The Inspector says that she is only partly responsible and later on,
when he is about to question Gerald, he encourages her to stay and
listen to what he has to say so that she doesn't feel entirely
responsible
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'
SHEILA BIRLING CONTINUED
She is aware of the mystery surrounding the Inspector,
yet realises that there is no point in trying to hide the
facts from him
She is mature about the breaking up of her engagement
and remains calm. She won't be rushed into accepting the
ring back once the Inspector has left
She is unable to accept her parents attitude and is both
amazed and concerned that they haven't learned
anything from the episode. Although the Inspector might
be a hoax, the family have still behaved in an entirely
unsuitable manner
She learns of her responsibilities to others less fortunate
than herself (the idea of the community) and is sensitive.
Her readiness to learn from experience is in great contrast
to her parents
MRS BIRLING
She is described at the start as "about fifty, a rather
cold woman and her husband's social superior."
She is a snob, very aware of the differences between
social classes. She is irritated when Mr Birling makes
the social gaffe of praising the cook in front of Gerald
and later is very dismissive of Eva, saying "Girls of
that class."
She has the least respect for the Inspector of all the
characters. She tries - unsuccessfully - to intimidate him
and force him to leave, then lies to him when she claims
that she does not recognise the photograph that he
shows her.
She sees Sheila and Eric still as "children" and speaks
patronisingly to them.
MRS BIRLING CONTINUED
She tries to deny things that she doesn't want to believe:
Eric's drinking, Gerald's affair with Eva, and the fact that a
working class girl would refuse money even if it was stolen,
claiming "She was giving herself ridiculous airs."
She admits she was "prejudiced" against the girl who
applied to her committee for help and saw it as her "duty"
to refuse to help her. Her narrow sense of morality dictates
that the father of a child should be responsible for its welfare,
regardless of circumstances.
At the end of the play, she has had to come to terms that her
son is a heavy drinker who got a girl pregnant and stole
money to support her, her daughter will not marry a good
social 'catch' and that her own reputation within the town will
be sullied. Yet, like her husband, she refuses to believe that
she did anything wrong and doesn't accept responsibility for
her part in Eva's death.
ERIC BIRLING
He is described at the start as "in his early twenties, not quite
at ease, half shy, half assertive."
Eric seems embarrassed and awkward right from the start.
The fist mention of him in the script is "Eric suddenly guffaws",
and then he is unable to explain his laughter, as if he is nervous
about something. (It is not until the final act that we realise this
must be because of his having stolen some money.) There is
another awkward moment when Gerald, Birling and Eric are
chatting about women's love of clothes before the Inspector
arrives. Do you feel that there is tension in Eric's relationship with
his father?
It soon becomes clear to us (although it takes his parents longer)
that he is a hardened drinker. Gerald admits, "I have
gathered that he does drink pretty hard."
When he hears how his father sacked Eva Smith, he supports the
worker's cause, like Sheila. "Why shouldn't they try for higher
wages?"
ERIC BIRLING CONTINUED
He feels guilt and frustration with himself over his relationship with
the girl. He cries, "Oh - my God! - how stupid it all is!" as he tells
his story. He is horrified that his thoughtless actions had such
consequences.
He had some innate sense of responsibility, though, because
although he got a woman pregnant, he was concerned enough to give
her money. He was obviously less worried about stealing (or 'borrowing'
from his father's office) than he was about the girl's future. So, was Eric,
initially, the most socially aware member of the Birling family?
He is appalled by his parents' inability to admit their own responsibility.
He tells them forcefully, "I'm ashamed of you." When Birling tries to
threaten him in Act III, Eric is aggressive in return: "I don't give a
damn now." Do you think Eric has ever stood up to his father in this
way before?
At the end of the play, like Sheila, he is fully aware of his social
responsibility. He is not interested in his parents' efforts to cover
everything up: as far as he is concerned, the important thing is that a
girl is dead. "We did her in all right."
GERALD CROFT
He is described as "an attractive chap about thirty, rather
too manly to be a dandy but very much the easy well-
bred man-about-town."
He is an aristocrat - the son of Lord and Lady Croft. We realise
that they are not over-impressed by Gerald's engagement to
Sheila because they declined the invitation to the dinner.
He is not as willing as Sheila to admit his part in the girl's death
to the Inspector and initially pretends that he never knew her.
Is he a bit like Mr Birling, wanting to protect his own interests?
He did have some genuine feeling for Daisy Renton, however:
he is very moved when he hears of her death. He tells
Inspector Goole that he arranged for her to live in his friend's
flat "because I was sorry for her"; she became his mistress
because "She was young and pretty and warm-hearted -
and intensely grateful."
GERALD CROFT CONTINUED
Despite this, in Act 3 he tries to come up with as much
evidence as possible to prove that the Inspector is a
fake - because that would get him off the hook. It is
Gerald who confirms that the local force has no officer
by the name of Goole, he who realises it may not have
been the same girl and he who finds out from the
infirmary that there has not been a suicide case in
months. He seems to throw his energies into protecting
himself rather than changing himself (unlike Sheila).
At the end of the play, he has not changed. He has not
gained a new sense of social responsibility, which is
why Sheila (who has) is unsure whether to take back
the engagement ring.
INSPECTOR GOOLE
He is described on his entrance as creating "an impression
of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness. He is a
man in his fifties, dressed in a plain darkish suit. He
speaks carefully, weightily, and has a disconcerting
habit of looking hard at the person he addresses
before actually speaking."
He works very systematically; he likes to deal with "one
person and one line of enquiry at a time." His method is
to confront a suspect with a piece of information and then
make them talk - or, as Sheila puts it, "he's giving us the
rope - so that we'll hang ourselves."
He is a figure of authority. He deals with each member of the
family very firmly and several times we see him "massively
taking charge as disputes erupt between them." He is not
impressed when he hears about Mr Birling's influential friends
and he cuts through Mrs Birling's obstructiveness.
INSPECTOR GOOLE
CONTINUED
He seems to know and understand an extraordinary
amount: - He knows the history of Eva Smith and the Birlings'
involvement in it, even though she died only hours ago.
Sheila tells Gerald, "Of course he knows." - He knows
things are going to happen - He says "I'm waiting...To do
my duty" just before Eric's return, as if he expected Eric to
reappear at exactly that moment - He is obviously in a great
hurry towards the end of the play: he stresses "I haven't
much time." Does he know that the real inspector is shortly
going to arrive?
His final speech is like a sermon or a politician's. He leaves
the family with the message "We are responsible for each
other" and warns them of the "fire and blood and
anguish" that will result if they do not pay attention to what
he has taught them.
INSPECTOR GOOLE
CONTINUED
All this mystery suggests that the Inspector is not a
'real' person. So, what is he?
Is he a ghost?
Goole reminds us of 'ghoul'.
Is he the voice of Priestley?
Is he the voice of God?
Is he the voice of all our consciences?
Do you have any other suggestions?

Remember that one of the things the examiner is


looking for is your personal response, so be prepared to
state an opinion.
EVA SMITH
Of course, we never see Eva Smith on stage in the play:
we only have the evidence that the Inspector and the
Birlings give us.
The Inspector, Sheila Gerald and Eric all say that she
was "pretty." Gerald describes her as "very pretty -
soft brown hair and big dark eyes."
Her parents were dead.
She came from outside Brumley: Mr Birling speaks of
her being "country-bred."
She was working class.
EVA SMITH CONTINUED
The Inspector says that she had kept a sort of diary, which
helped him piece together the last two years of her life:
However, in Act 3 we begin to wonder whether Eva ever
really existed. - Gerald says, "We've no proof it was the
same photograph and therefore no proof it was the
same girl." - Birling adds, "There wasn't the slightest
proof that this Daisy Renton really was Eva Smith."
Yet the final phone call, announcing that a police inspector
is shortly to arrive at the Birlings' house to investigate the
suicide of a young girl, makes us realise that maybe Eva
Smith did exist after all. What do you think?
Think about Eva's name. Eva is similar to Eve, the first
woman created by God in the Bible. Smith is the most
common English surname. So, Eva Smith could represent
every woman of her class.
WHAT ARE THE
THEMES OF
THE PLAY?
THE GENERATION GAP
The Younger Generation
In the play, the younger
generation (Eric and Sheila)
show that they are capable of
change. The express sympathy
The Older Generation
for the strikers in Act 1 and they
In the play, the older generation (Mr. & Mrs.
also show greater sympathy for Birling) seem incapable of real change. They are
Eva Smith. Through the play, set in their ways and see Sheila and Eric as
foolish children.
they are honest about their They have little sympathy for Eva Smith and are
actions and refuse to go back on only sorry that she has died because it could
impact on their lives.
what they have learnt.
Priestley uses Mr. & Mrs. Birling to represent old-
Sheila and Erics ability to fashioned ideas. He discredits them, abd what
they represent, by making them look foolish and
change means that Priestley can by catching them out at the end.
end the play with an element of
hope. It is possible that the next
generation can make society
better. Without this, the play
would end hopelessly, with the
characters co
RESPONSIBILITY
Responsibility is arguably the most important theme in
the play. The words responsible and responsibility
appear a considerable number of times.
At the beginning of the play, Mr. Birling gives his
interpretation of responsibility in his speech. Towards
the end of the play, the Inspector gives his alternative
interpretation.
These speeches reflect the opposing viewpoints in the
play:
Individual responsibility vs. collective responsibility
Conservatism vs. Socialism
How Priestley makes it clear that he
supports one view and opposes the other?
RESPONSIBILITY
When thinking about this theme, consider:
Personal responsibility each character is forced to consider
to what extent they are responsible for Evas death;
Towards the end of the play the Inspector tells the family
that they can divide responsibility amongst themselves after
he has left;
1. The
Ericdifferent generations
tries to take responsibilityrespond differently
for Eva and to the
the baby but
Inspectors visit who really takes responsibility for
does it by stealing;
their actions?
2. Mrs. Birling is part of a Charitable Organisation is
this because she wants to take responsibility or
because it makes her look good?
3. The characters failure to fully take responsibility
leads to the second telephone call would the
telephone have rung if theyd learnt from their
mistakes?
FAMILY
At the beginning of the play, Gerald thinks the Birlings are a nice well
behaved family, butGerald and the audience soon learn that there are
murky secrets lurking behind their polite, well polished behaviour.

In 1912, family members were expected to know their role and to be


content with their position. The parents are in charge, the children are
obedient and unquestioning.
Gender roles were well defined for the wealthy and middle class:
Men worked to support their families and they were to protect their wives
and daughters.
Women were to marry into money so that they didnt have to work and they
planned parties, visited friends and had children.

The Birlings want everyone to think they are the perfect family.
The gender roles are shown when the women depart the scene to let the
men talk.
Mrs Birling always correct her families social mistakes.
Sheila teases her brother about his behaviour last summer.
FAMILY
The hierarchy shown at the start of the play is
destroyed by the Inspectors arrival.

The children can think for themselves without their


parents influence:
Sheila doesnt know if she will marry Gerald anymore, she
wants time to decide for herself.
Eric says his mother doesnt understand anything and
that Birling is not the kind of father a chap could go to for
The family
help. is ultimately a mess. Sheila and Eric
refuse to behave the way they used to: they dont
want to pretend anymore. The parents have lost
their authority over the children.

The family is tied together by lies. There is hatred,


envy, theft, prostitutes and even the responsibility
for the death of your own grand-child.
SOCIAL CLASS
Social class is very important in the play. Class influences
the Birlings behaviour and makes them treat people
differently.

**RememberPriestly did not agree with the class


system ***
Priestley The characters
designed the Class plays a represent the classes
characters to central part in Priestly challenges their
put across his the plot. views and behaviour in
message. order to challenge the
class hierarchy

Working class Eva Smith / Daisy


Middle Class The Birlings
Upper Class - Gerald
SOCIAL CLASS
The class system made life hard for those lower down
Eva couldnt get help for herself when she was in
trouble.
Priestley shows how the upper classes have a limited
sense of responsibility.
When Mrs Birling says she does not recognise Eva it is
because to her she has no identity she does not exist
because she is lower class.
Priestly suggests that the higher classes didnt question
the class system as it worked for them this is also why
they dont recognise Erics drinking and womanising
they dont want to know.
THE INSPECTOR TELLS THE BIRLINGS THAT THEY
HAVE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR EVERYONE
OR ITLL END IN FIRE, BLOOD AND
SOCIAL CLASS
The Birlings are only worried about class:
Birling is worried that Evas death will cause a public
scandal.
Birling thinks his position of authority makes him more
important. He has been Lord Mayor and is now a
magistrate who dishes out judgements on people IRONIC
AS HE HIMSELF HAS ACTED SO IMMORALLY.
Birling uses Gerald to promote his social class.
Mrs Birling is a member of the Womens Charity
Organisation they are meant to help desperate women
but she is only concerned with social status.
Priestley thought class should not matter he uses the play to reveal the
unfairness of the class system. He uses the Birlings to show all that is
wrong with the ruling classes.

The pay shows how Priestly saw society he uses the Birlings to represent
all the middle classes.

Priestley saw the working class as victims of the class system Evas story
is unique but the miseries she suffered were common EVA SMITH COULD
SOCIAL CLASS
Eva should have low moral as she is working
class but she refuses to accept stolen money
even though she is desperate.

Eric and Sheila they change by the end of


the play and turn against their own class.
Priestley uses them to say that it doesnt
matter what class you are from, you can
break out and choose to act differently.

The Inspector does not fit into the class


system he wants everyone to be treated
equally.
JUDGEMENT
Priestley leaves the end of the play a mystery it leaves the audience
to figure out what has happened and who to judge.

Morality Plays:
Morality plays were religious plays written in the Late Middle Ages.
They tried to teach people how to behave and were warnings to the
audience.
AIC follows this idea it points out everyone's sins and then tries to
get them to confess and repent.

The Inspector:
He is there to teach the Birlings a lesson but who learns from it:
Gerald, Arthur and Sybil all decide it is a hoax. They are relieved that the
Inspector is a fraud and they think they have been let off the hook.
Sheila and Eric waver when they find out there was no suicide. But...they
have learnt an important lesson - that even if there wasnt a tragic end to
their story, there could have been.

Sheila and Eric hold true to their moral instincts


however the others react selfishly and never take
responsibility for their actions.
WHO IS
INSPECTOR
GOOLE?
SOWHO IS HE???

He is J. B. Priestley (teaching us a lesson)


Hes God / an Angel / the Devil
Hes the voice of conscience
Hes the child Eva Smith was pregnant with, come back
as a ghost
Hes a dream or group hallucination
Hes a time traveller from the future
Hes a real police inspector
Which do you think
he is and why?
WHO IS INSPECTOR
GOOLE???
Inspector suggests someone who inspects things to look
closely atPriestleys stage directions tell us that the
lighting becomes brighter and harder on his arrival a spot
light on the family for his investigation perhaps?
The name sounds like ghoul which makes him enigmatic
(mysterious). Is he from another world? A spokesman for the
dead girl come to plead her case?
His physical description an impression of massiveness,
solidity and purposefulness nothing distracts him from his
purpose of discovering the truth. His solidity is necessary if
he is to be a match for the Birlings. He appears incorruptible,
calm, determined. He speaks weightily- this is a man who is
serious about his mission.
WHO IS INSPECTOR
GOOLE???
The mood of the play changes as soon as he arrives by
becoming more sombre. He is not drawn into friendly
chatter with Mr Birling.
He reveals everyones secrets has an uncanny knowledge
of what each character had done and when they have done
it.
He asks probing questions which lead them to confess. As
Sheila says, somehow he makes you. He makes the Birlings
and Gerald face up to what they have done and take
responsibility for their part in the chain of events.
The Inspector controls everything: he decides who will speak
and when; who will be allowed to leave and who should stay;
who sees the photograph etc.
WHO IS INSPECTOR
GOOLE???
He is omniscient (all knowing), mysterious and powerful but
compassionate to those who admit their responsibility, if
youre easy with me then Im easy with you.
He is no ordinary policeman. He is concerned with moral
truth what is right or wrong rather than what is legal or
illegal. He often speaks like a judge or a prophet: And I tell
you that 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 and is the voice of social conscience: Public men,
Mr Birling, have responsibilities as well as privileges.
He has several functions in the play: story teller (filling in
background histories)/father confessor (hearing each
characters confessions and getting them to repent).
WHAT ROLE DOES THE INSPECTOR
PLAY AS A DRAMATIC DEVICE?

How does the Inspector:


Move the story forward? (contributing to the plays
dramatic structure)
Create dramatic tension? (contributing to moments
of dramatic intensity or tension on stage)
Present Priestleys central themes? (contributing to
the plays dramatic message)
Engage the audience? (contributing to the plays
dramatic effectiveness)
WHAT ROLE DOES THE INSPECTOR
PLAY AS A DRAMATIC DEVICE?

Qualities of the Staging:


character: Lighting changes when
Impressive he arrives
Purposeful Language used:
Methodical The Inspectors
Unflappable speeches increasingly
Who the character is: show his emotions
Seems to know the He moves from factual
future speeches (and dry
humour) to anger and
Possible supernatural
frustration
qualities?
His final speech is
Not a genuine police
inspector impressive and shocking
WHAT DRAMATIC
DEVICES ARE
USED IN THE PLAY?
DRAMATIC DEVICES USED
BY PRIESTLEY
One set for the whole play
makes the atmosphere of the play seem claustrophobic
and intense like a pressure cooker.
It also emphasises the Birlings private and self-centred
lifestyle and highlights the unwelcome arrival of the
Inspector from the outside.
Warning signs from the very beginning
the family falls apart as their secrets are revealed. At the
start you see the signs of problems.
Sheila half joking with Gerald shows she is not
convinced he is telling her the truth.
Eric acting half drunk shows the audience that something
is not quite right.
DRAMATIC DEVICES USED
BY PRIESTLEY
The way the play looks can say a lot
about its message
The lighting is pink and intimate at the
start as if the Birlings are looking at the
World through rose tinted glasses. Later it
becomes brighter and harder when the
Inspector arrives as it a spotlight has
been put upon them.
DRAMATIC DEVICES USED
BY PRIESTLEY
Priestley paces the action to build tension and create conflict
The audience would expect Act 2 to start with Geralds confession but it
doesnt. Priestley delays the action by shifting the audiences attention to
Sybil and Sheila. This builds tension and increases the audiences curiosity.
The Inspector releases information bit by bit builds tension. He shows
them the photo one by one and positions it so that the other characters
cannot see it.
The family all start seated but by the end they are standing, crying and
shouting. It is a dramatic but slow change in how the stage looks and
sounds.
Entrances and Exits are very important
An exit could signal a character escaping someone or something Sheila
wants to leave the intense atmosphere when she thinks she was the reason
Eva was sacked.
The Inspector leaves Gerald and Sheila alone so that he can draw
information out of them.
The front door BANGS every time someone leaves or enters this causes
the audience to wonder who is coming and going.
DRAMATIC DEVICES USED
BY PRIESTLEY
The beginnings and ends of acts are a dramatic
moment in themselves
Priestley freezes the action between scenes to create tension.
Act 1 ends with the Inspector asking well?
Act 2 opens with the same moment. The audience would have
wondered about this question during the break.
Act 2 ends in a cliff-hanger: the front door slams to show Eric is
back but they have to wait for Act 3 to hear his confession.
LANGUAGE USED IN THE PLAY
The words a character uses says a lot about their mood and their social class.

The Birlings:
chaps jingo they use the language of their social class.
Slang was popular with the younger generation but not with the older generation
squiffy Sybil is shocked when Sheila says this.

The Inspector:
He doesnt mess about, he speaks his mind.
He uses plain and direct language so that there cannot be any confusion.
He also uses silence he stares at a person before he speaks to them.
The Birlings find him offensive because of his manner and language.

Sheila:
At the start of the play she uses childish and simple language e.g. daddy and
mummy.
By the end of the play her language is more confident and assertive she uses
plain language just like the Inspector.
She directly disagrees with her parents and tell them they were wrong to think
that it was all a hoax.
HOW TO
ANSWER THE
QUESTION
Arthur Birling says, If we were all responsible for
everything that happened to everybody wed had
anything to do with, it would be very awkward,
wouldnt it? How does Priestley present ideas
about responsibility in An Inspector Calls?

In groups, place the paragraphs in order and justify your


reasons. How do you structure an essay? Focus
particularly on the introduction and the conclusion.
INTRODUCTION
BREAK DOWN THE QUESTION

How is the character of Sheila important in the play?

How does she link


The importance of
to the plays
Sheila
themes
INTRODUCTION AND
CONCLUSION
INTRODUCTION CONCLUSION

Give a clear answer to the question in 1 or 2


sentences. Summarise your answer to the question.
Include some of the ideas about what you will Make your main point again.
include in your main paragraphs.
You could develop your own opinion and highlight
Give your opinion. what you think is the most important point.
Make it clear and ensure it fits the question.
e.g. Priestly uses dramatic irony in the play to show
that the character of Birling is not as nice as he
pretends to be and to add humour to the play.
MAIN PARAGRAPHS
Use short quotes to support your
Point linked to question ideas:
Evidence which precisely
Sybil is socially superior to her
selected husband, which is shown in her
Explanation of the strict reinforcement of correct
quotation at word level etiquette she tells him off
Development of reproachfully for mentioning
the servants in front of the more
interpretations
upper class Gerald.
Evaluation of Priestleys
purpose and his
intended effects on his
audience Use literary terms e.g. imagery,
euphemism, dramatic irony.
CHOOSE 1 QUESTION AND IN PAIRS, PLAN
OUT YOUR PARAGRAPHS.
1. How important do you think social class is in An Inspector Calls and how
does Priestley present ideas about social class?

2. In the opening stage directions, Priestley refers to Eric as not quite at


ease, half shy, half assertive. How does Priestley present these and
other ideas about Eric in An Inspector Calls?

3. How does Priestley present ideas about gender in Ann Inspector Calls?

4. What do you think is the importance of Eva Smith in An Inspector Calls


and how does Priestley present her?

5. Arthur Birling describes himself as a hard-headed, practical man of


business. How does Priestley present this and other views of Arthur
Birling in An Inspector Calls?

6. How does Priestley present ideas about inequality in An Inspector Calls?


HOMEWORK

Revise everything we have done today.

Read the play again.

Answer 2 of the questions from the last slide spend 45


minutes per question.

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