An Inspector Calls is probably the most famous work of J.B. Priestly. Written in 1934 it was designed as an advocate of having a social conscience, and also about economic and political socialism, it also has a strong pacifistic message. It was almost prophetic at it’s time even predicting the coming of the Second World War starting by 1940.


The play takes place in 1913 in the fictional industrial town of Brumley. It concerns the Birling family and their dealings with a suicide, Eva Smith. Through their actions they drive the girl to suicide, first by greed, then by jealousy, then by lust, the by lust again, then finally by selfishness. The characters all believed they had acted in a justified way but are each proved to have more to do with the girl than they first assumed.

The characters are:

Arthur Birling, local factory owner and “hard headed business man. He fired the girl originally.
Sybil Birling, Arthur’s wife and all round snob. Refused the girl help, pushed her over the edge (metaphorically speaking.)
Sheila Birling, The daughter, spoiled, but has a conscience, had the girl fired from her second job.
Eric Birling, The son, drunkard, got the girl pregnant, then revealed he was stealing money and she dumped him.
Gerald Croft, Sheila’s fiancé, admires Arthur, son of a business rival, cheated on Sheila with the girl for six months.
Inspector Goole, strange man, seems to know everything, appears to have a mission, speaks for Priestly.
Edna the maid, small part.

The plot has a twist at the end which makes you think, I won’t reveal it since it would spoil the feel of the play should you ever see it which I recommend you do, it is an excellent piece of work. (Note, the Inspector Goole node contains the twist, as i believe does the Arthur Birling node.)

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