J. B. Priestly wrote the play “An Inspector Calls” in 1945, it was set in a small town in north England called Bromley in 1912. The main characters are Arthur Birling, Sheila Birling, Gerald Croft, Sybil Birling and Eric Birling. Arthur and Sybil Birling are married, Eric and Sheila are their children and Gerald Croft is Sheila Birling’s fianci?? e. The significance of the above dates are that J. B. Priestly tried to show how hypocritical the upper class people were towards the working class people and it is before the war and the sinking of the Titanic.
In my opinion the Inspector is a time traveller because he knows everything that has happened in the future and in the past. ‘Time present and time past are both perhaps present in time future and time future contained in time past’. T. S. Eliot wrote this quote in 1935. J. B. Priestly is influenced by T. S. Eliot who says that ‘what you do today will affect you in the future. ‘ The Inspector uses his knowledge of the future and past to make the Birlings feel partly to blame for Eva Smith’s Death.
I think his main purpose of his call to the Birling’s house was to make each of the Birlings feel guilty and to try and change the way they feel about lower class people. Arthur Birling’s part in Eva’s death was unfairly sacking her just because she asked for a pay rise. ‘And this girl, Eva Smith was one of them. She’d had a lot to say – far too much – so she had to go. ‘ The quote shows why Eva was sacked for just asking for a pay rise. Now Eva would have to live without any money, which means very little food and she, was also left living on the streets thanks to Arthur Birling sacking her.
When Arthur found out the Inspector wasn’t really an Inspector he was overjoyed that now he may not be connected to Eva’s death but he was also disgusted with the ‘fake’ Inspector for coming into his home and accusing him of possible murder. Sheila Birling’s part in the life of Eva Smith was, when Sheila got Eva sacked from her job of a shop assistant after Shelia thought Eva was laughing at her. Shelia demanded the girl (Eva) sacked, and so she was. Now Eva again had no money, no food and nowhere to live.
When Shelia found out that the inspector wasn’t a real inspector, she was still feeling very guilty about the way she had treated Eva and the other lower class people. After finding out about the inspector Shelia was upset but she had suspected the inspector was a fake. The discovery that the inspector may have been talking about more than one girl, really shocked Shelia and made her feel really guilty and upset. “Yes the same photograph”. The quote is taken from the conversation between Gerald and Shelia. Gerald asks Shelia if she has seen a photo of a girl and Shelia is certain that it is the same photo that Gerald had seen.
It shows how certain Shelia was about seeing the same photo but was then totally shocked when she found out there might be more than one girl that they are talking about. Shelia was happy but frightened when she found out no girl had died in this way. She was angry with the rest of her family for the way they had begun to learn something and then now just because a girl had not died, they would carry on being horrible and unfair to lower class people. ” I tell you-whoever the inspector was, it was anything but a joke. You knew it then. You began to learn something.
And now you’ve stopped. You’re ready to go on in the same old way”. The quote shows the anguish and disgust that Shelia is feeling towards her family and shows how she is trying to teach her family a lesson. Gearald Croft met Eva in the Palace Bar, he then took her for a drink and for something to eat. Eva had told Gerald her name was Daisy Renton. Daisy was told to stay at Gerald’s friend’s house, which they only visit a few times, so she did and then soon became Gerald’s mistress. Eventually Gerald ended the relationship. Daisy had expected this but was still very upset.
Gerald was the first person to find out the Inspector was not a real inspector, when he went out for a walk and met a local policeman. Gerald had asked the local police officer about Inspector Goole and described him carefully. The police officer told Gerald that he was 100% sure there was no inspector Goole in this area. Gerald was shocked but very anxious to tell the rest of his family. Gerald went home and told his family about his findings, he was now getting really excited that he had not played a part in the death of Eva Smith but he was also starting to realise how unfair he had been treating the lower class people.
Yet again Gerald was the first person to realise they may have been talking about more than one girl. He came up with the idea after discussing with his family that the inspector may of shown each of them a different photo, his reasons for thinking this where because the inspector did not let anyone else see the photo accept the person he was talking to. Gerald was confused ” A man comes here pretending to be a police officer. He’s a hoax of some kind”. The quote shows how sure Gerald was, that the inspector was not real or it could also be Gerald saying what he wants to hear and hopes that its true.
The discovery that no girl had died after all made Gerald really happy and he wanted a drink. In my opinion the drink was to help get rid of his guilty conscience. In think that Gerald did actually think that there was a lesson to be learned but didn’t actually learn it. The play is a traditional detective play with all the strange happenings, murder, suspicion and suspense. J. B. Priestly has used all these actions to create an effective play which keeps the audience guessing throughout.