The Summary Of An Inspector Calls English Literature Essay

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An inspector calls is a stage play set in the spring of 1912, women have not yet got the vote, Europe is anticipating war with Germany and English life still goes on oblivious to anything else. One evening in that spring of 1912, The celebrations of the Birling's daughter Shelia Birling's to Gerald Croft on their engagement Arthur and Sybil Birling who are Husband and wife, along with their son Eric, are extremely pleased with themselves. There is a toast to the happy couple, and Gerald Gives Sheila an engagement ring which extremely delights her. makes a speech that not only toasts Gerald and Sheila, but also making a critical observation on how the nation is at the minuet. He predicts wealth for the nation, particularly commenting on the example of the Titanic, which set sail last week. Mr.Birling likes to see himself as a hard-headed business man.

The two women then leave the room, and Eric follows them out. Mr.Birling and future son in-law Gerald deliberates the fact that Gerald might have done a lot better for himself socially: Sheila is less substantial to Gerald's social standing. Mr.Birling reveals to Gerald that it has been rumoured he is in the running for a knighthood, but everything would be ruined if a scandal was to happen. When Eric returns, Mr.Birling continues to hand out unwanted advice. He is very passionate about announcing his theory of "every man for himself" self-views of the world when the doorbell rings.

It's an Inspector to talk about the death of a young girl; He refuses a drink from Mr.Birling. Mr.Birling is surprised who has once been an ex-Lord Mayor and a senior council member, that he has never been aware of this man before in the local police force, though he knows the Brumley police force quiet well! The Inspector clarifies the reason he is here to investigate the death of a girl who died two hours ago . Her name was Eva Smith; the Inspector shows a photograph to Birling but not to anyone else.

The Inspector outlines that a chain of unconnected events might be responsible for the girl's death, It is revealed that the dead girl "Eva Smith" worked in Birling's works, from which she was dismissed after being an instigator in an unsuccessful strike to demand better pay for Birling's workers., and for the rest of the play each member of the family is questioned about the part they have played in Eva Smith's life which other members of the family were blissfully unaware of until now. It is next discovered that Sheila Birling come across Eva Smith at Millward's, in a fit of jealously Sheila insisted that she was to be dismissed. Sheila feels extremely guilty about the part she had played in Eva's death, even though it is in an indirect way. As the play goes on it seems to be clear that each member of the Birling family might have played a decisive role in her down fall which would lead to her death, this makes them all partly responsible.


It is now discovering Eva Smith had changed her name to Daisy Renton it is by this name Gerald Croft encountered her and this is whom she had a prolonged love affair with. Sheila Birling is not as upset as might have been expected; she seems to have already worked out why Gerald was inattentive in their relationship last summer. Gerald Had put her up in a Property he was using, Daisy Renton was now Gerald's Crofts mistress and he gave her gifts of money and a roof above her head and food, but after a while, he finished the relationship to be with Shelia Burling. Gerald asks the Inspector if he could now leave as he had no more to say on the matter, Sheila now gives Gerald the engagement ring back but letting him know that there is still a chance for love once this matter has all being sorted and laid to rest.

The Inspector now turns to Mrs Birling, who is not accepting any responsibility for the death of the girl. When Eva Smith came to encounter Mrs Birling, Eva was pregnant. Mrs Birling was chairperson a charity committee of which. Helps single women bring up their children. Mrs Birling had used her influence with the committee to refuse to help Eva. Mrs Birling then tells the inspector that the farther should be whole responsible for the girl's death not realizing that the farther is someone close to her.

It emerges to Mrs Birling's fear, that her son Eric was, the father of the child, unsuspectingly has condemned her own son. When Eric returns from his lay down upstairs the Inspector questions him about his relationship with Eva Smith. After meeting her after a night out in a bar, when he was drunk his drinking was a problem, from that night a sexual relationship had started. He also gave her money but after a while, Eva ended the relationship, telling Eric that he did not love her.

The Inspector now makes a final speech, to the Birling's family about how we do not live alone and are members of one society, and that were responsible to what happens to more vulnerable people than our self's without using them or abusing them, He then leaves the Birling's place of residents.

Once the inspector has left the Birling's place of residence, the family start to fight with each other. When everybody has finally calmed down Sheila states that he might not be a real police inspector. Gerald has just confirmed this by talking to a policeman on patrol in the street. The Birling's begin to think that they have been hoaxed by this man. The younger members of the Birling's see this inspector as someone real to them.

When they all realize that they could each have been shown a different photograph, they decide to call the Chief Constable to confirm their suspicions. They now conclude that they have all been a victim of a hoax, and they are very relieved. Gerald suggests that each photo seen was a different girl. They then check with the infirmary if there had been any suicides that day and found out that there had been none for quite some time. Everyone seems to be in the clear, even if each of their actions was immoral and reckless. Only Sheila and Eric fail to come to an understanding with that sentiment and have come to the conclusion that the overall theme was of responsibility. Mr Birling mocks his children for been so high upon their moral horse.

The Birling's phone rings and once answered the person ringing the Birling's house revealing the play's final twist: "That was the police. A girl has just died on her way to the Infirmary after ingested some strong disinfectant. And a police inspector is on his way here to ask some questions"

1.2 How the choice of language, structure and style achieves particular effects of the play


bThe usage of language in this play denotes again they are well educated people and the play uses dramatic pauses and is littered with irony to put the audience at a vantage point where they know more than the characters on the stage. As for example it mentions the maiden voyage of the titanic but as the audience knows of it hitting the ice-berg and sinking losing nearly all hands on deck the cast of characters are blissfully unaware of this. Also in the play there is a confident statement that there will be no war in Europe but two years later WW1 will break out.


CWith the use of tension and timing the play keeps changing the tone from being happy and jolly to doom and gloom which can make the audience just be a little bit kept in suspense For example the confident Mr.Birling was soon made to be justifying himself to the inspector as to what part he played in her down fall, by the end of the interrogation his emotions was replaced by great anxiety. The timing in this play is very crucial as when Mr.Birling told Gerald of his impending Knighthood but it will not happen if there is scandal then all of a sudden enters the inspector. The ending of this play brings a cliff hanger as they all try to work out who the inspector is and no girl was actually dead and the probability of a different photo for each person. Then all of a sudden a real policeman phones the house to tell of a young girl's death and wanted to speak with them all.


As was said in the summary this is a stage play and it has direction on how the characters are set on the stage and lighting which give different dramatic effect. The lighting and setting of the play are important and so are costumes and props all of this telling a story of the characters in a subtle mode. From the look of it they sit down to eat in a dining room and are well spoken and dressed with their surroundings of wealth. Without saying in words it shows that characters are well off, educated people where they behave in a manner that is more fitting for more important members of society.

The main characteristics of a principal figure/idea/motif


The main character to be looked at here is the inspector. This is a man who has a mission and will not stop until it is complete. This man knows how to push the buttons of let's say his intended victims. If you are to look at his behaviour he hardly speaks but he ask the right questions at the right time giving him an advantage to whom he is interrogating. This gives him a presence that is on a Parr with a deity. He also plays the devil's advocate in his interrogation this seems to turn people against each other so they slip up and make mistakes and then eventually turn against each other. The other thing that seems to be true about his character is the way he appeared and disappeared in the play almost like a spirit. That also might be connected with his name "INSPECTOR GOOLE "or should it be read as Spector [a phantom] Goole [A demon or spirit]


The main idea of the play is to find out why Eva Brown would take her own life that had power and influence over her. This play is exploring the social aspects of people in the early nineteen hundreds before war broke out people could not of imagined death and suffering on such a large scale. Where people thought that in England we were more advanced than the rest of the world we all in this country was about to get kicked into the real world. In six years' time the suffragettes movement would take place where women would get the vote not be a lowly second class citizen any more.


In An Inspector Calls, the central theme is responsibility. Priestley is interested in the personal responsibility for our own actions and our collective responsibility to society. In other words don't pass the blame on deal with it in the right manor. The play explores the effect of class, age and sex on people's attitudes to responsibility, and shows how prejudice can prevent people from acting responsibly.

For example: The Inspector wanted each member of the family to share the responsibility of Eva's death: he tells them, "Each of you helped to kill her." However, his final speech is aimed not only at the characters on stage, but at the audience too:

One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do.

Describe the main characteristics of a principal figure/idea/motif.


The figure that will be examined here is Mr birling, He is an obvious man of good luck and fortune to start off with then from there has built up his wealth. He prides himself on being a hard hitting business man that will do the right thing to succeed in life. He is a very short sighted man as he cannot see what the truth, right in front of him is. This man seems to have forgotten that he is working class and will always be seen as working class. It is obvious that JB Priestly has this man representing the working class man who needs more education just as Eva Brown represents the working class women who is educated to a higher level but realizes she has to dumb the intelligence down a bit.


The main idea behind this play is the class divide in the country, and people's attitude towards it. Can the play teach lessons for us to learn by? Is the women second class citizen, by analysing the book you can get the sense of good v evil, karma just doing the right thing? The play does not represent a family it represents attitudes and here is how the cast of character would be portraying these

Mr Birling is the face of the working class man.

Eva brown is the working class women

Shelia Birling is the women after 1918 who have won their right to vote

Eric Birling is the childish character that keeps getting into trouble but now has just worked out for him to take responsibility.

Mrs Birling represents the middle class.

Gerald croft is the face of a well-educated man.

Looking at the new look cast you can see how they represents all the main members of society.

We look at inspector Goole now I have already said his name is a play on words but he plays devil's advocate in this kangaroo court on modern society why does this daemon want to strike things up?


The theme of this play is to take responsibility in life and look after your family. Stop trying to pass the buck and walk tall. To up hold the traditional family values. When the inspector comes in you get the feeling that he is there for a greater reason. This reason seems to be to plays devil's advocate and the reasons for this is there is a sinister side to the story with the death of Eva or what she represents in the play the inspector is definitely playing devil's advocate. If you look at the meaning of sinister in Latin it means left hand. On the other side is Dexter or the right side in Latin, this seems to be the way the Birling's live their lives, in the end you cannot judge why this has happened you just have to know it has.

Explain the contextual significance of the text

Much of J B Priestly writings were ground-breaking and contentious. He had ideas about possible parallel universes and strong political messages.

During the 1930's Priestley became very worried about the costs of social inequality in Britain, and in 1942 Priestley and others set up a new political party, the Common Wealth Party, which argued for public ownership of land, greater democracy, and a new 'morality' in politics. This was all the right grounding for the play "An inspector calls" It has been read as a parable about the destruction of Victorian social values and the disintegration of pre-World War I English society, and Goole's final speech has been interpreted variously as a quasi-Christian vision of hell and judgement, and as a Socialist party manifesto. Wikipedia. (2011). An Inspector Calls. Available: Last accessed 06/05/2011.

The play was inherent of the state of this country and its attitudes at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Everything that made Priestly angry he put into this play of judgement on social life. He wanted to bring the message of his beliefs to the masses and the only way he could do it was through a play.


Wikipedia. (2011). An Inspector Calls. Available: Last accessed 06/05/2011

BBC bitesize. (2011). An Inspector Calls. Available: Last accessed 06/05/2011.