The play ‘An Inspector Calls’ was written by J. B Priestly. He wrote this between 1944 and 1945. The play is set in 1912. We know this as Arthur Birling was discussing with Gerald about a friend who was setting sail on the Titanic the following week. The setting was in the Birling’s family home. The Birling family represent wealthy successful middle class. Another character, Eva Smith, represents working class. This play is all about the class system. It is relating to how the middle class and upper class treat working class.
In this play Eva Smith has committed suicide and the Birling family are being inspected by Inspector Goole, to find out why she killed herself. Inspector Goole’s function in the play was to reveal information about how each of the characters had contributed to Eva, Smith’s death. We learn nothing about him as a person. We only find out his views on society, which are that everybody should be given a chance and treated equally. The inspector’s name, ‘Goole,’ is a deliberate choice. Ghouls are interested in things unpleasant. This can be seen as a dramatic effect in the play. The effect upon the audience is that the inspector introduces something unpleasant to the previously happy atmosphere.
He quite literally inspects them: their behaviour, motives and ability to perceive their capability. Each of the Birling family members are questioned starting with Mr Arthur Birling. He is actually a very nai?? ve person that thinks he knows everything. We know this because when he is talking to Gerald he says “The Germans don’t want war. ” The audience knows that he is wrong because shortly afterwards World War one began. Another example of his ignorance is when he says that the Titanic is absolutely unsinkable.
The audience know that he is also wrong about this; of course his views were shared by many others. The point though, is that Eric, dismissed by his father as young and lacking knowledge of worldly affairs, can see what might be in store. This has a dramatic effect on the audience because they have a rapid insight to the personality of Mr Birling. They quickly realise that he gets things wrong and that they are likely to find out some more about how he has misjudged thing. When Mr Birling is first introduced to Inspector Goole he initially assumes that it has something to do with a warrant due to his position on the bench. He certainly does not think that is because of a possible crime.
Once he finds out it is not what he assumes he pauses. This pause has a dramatic effect on the audience, who are realising something is about to be revealed are intrigued by what the Inspector has to say. We then go on to find out that a young girl has committed suicide. The girl, named Eva Smith, worked at the Birling factory but was discharged because she asked for more pay. The inspector has shown a photo of Eva to Mr Birling but he would not let anybody else see it. This gives the effect that there is some mystery and adds to the curiosity felt by the audience. Mr Birling makes it clear that the dismissing her from his works had nothing to do with her death.
He says ” I can’t accept responsibility, if we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we’d had anything to do with, it would be very awkward. ” This attitude is important as it is the exact opposite of the view put forward by the Inspector in his final speech. Sheila was next to be ‘inspected’. Sheila was a kind, good- natured person. She shows this when Inspector Goole has told her what had happened to Eva. She says “Oh-how horrible! Was it an accident? ” Also she says “I felt rotten about it at the time and now I feel a lot worse. ” And to her father she says “.
But these girls aren’t cheap labour, they’re people. ” Because of this the audience like her because she seems nice and that she is a good character. This has a good dramatic effect as liking for a character has been established before we find out what she has done. We discover that Eva Smith had managed to find another job at Milwards. She then had to leave her job there. Sheila had gone into the shop that day and while she was trying a dress on Eva was one of her assistants. The dress did not suit Sheila and when Eva held the dress up against herself, Sheila became very jealous because the dress suited Eva perfectly.
Sheila had said to the manager if they did not get rid of her then she would never go near the place again. The Inspector goes on to say that Eva had changed her name to Daisy Renton. There is a dramatic effect when Gerald reacts to this name. The audience know then that he also has something to do with her. They already know that Gerald had stayed away from Sheila in the summer. Sheila thought it was because of another woman. The dramatic effect on the audience is that they are curious to find out what has happened, they can see it sets up a new line of interrogation and therefore more revelations are to come.
Gerald had met Daisy Renton at The Palace Bar, where he had rescued her from the notorious womaniser Joe Meggarty. This part of the story underscores the play’s message of how apparent public respectability can be no more that veneer. Gerald took Daisy to a quiet bar where he showed her friendliness and care. They met a few more times when Daisy let it slip that she was being evicted from a back room she lived in. Gerald let her stay in a flat for six month in Morgan Terrace, while a friend was away. Gerald then kept Eva as his mistress. In the play he says ” I suppose it was inevitable. She was young and pretty and warm hearted.
” The affair ended in September when Eva’s stay had to come to an end at Morgan Terrace. Gerald broke it off before he went away on business. He gave her some money as a parting gift, to last her till the end of the year. Gerald’s concern seems genuine , he is totally honest with the Inspector. He does feel bad for Eva as he shows interest in what happened after he broke off contact with her. He asks the Inspector questions where and what she did. This suggests that he had cared about her or was a caring person. The dramatic effect of Gerald’s attitude to persuade the audience that Gerald is a good character.
Mrs Birling is a complete snobby. The quote that suggests this is ” In any case I don’t suppose for a moment that we can understand why the girl committed suicide. Girls of that class. ” It is quite clear here, that to Mrs Birling, working class are virtually from another planet. Another example of Mrs Birling’s arrogance and lack of understanding is when she is talking to the Inspector and she says ” I realise that you may have to conduct some sort of enquiry, but I must say that so far you seem to be conducting it in rather a peculiar manner.