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An Inspector Calls

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 04:08 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 67.9 
  • Words: 2066
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An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

Who or what killed Eva Smith?



The short answer to this question is that she killed herself that is if Eva Smith ever existed. Was she just a personification of the poor working class people of the City, abused and taken advantage of by the social hierarchy? Whether or not she was real is irrelevant, the fact of the matter is her life was planned to change the life of a very irresponsible family and the readers’ opinions of the world we live in.

At the beginning of the play we are introduced to a well to do family called the birlings. This family consists of the factory owner and businessman- Mr Birling, his wife Sybil, and their children; Eric and Sheila. They also live with a maid called Edna and at the start of the play the family is having a small celebration of their daughter’s engagement to a businessman called Gerald. But then an inspector pays them a visit, his name is Inspector Goole. On his entrance Priestley writes

“He creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness”

As he is invited to sit down and join the celebration Mr Birling starts telling the inspector about his previous social standing and how he was lord Mayor and that he is still on the bench. The inspector then tells Mr Birling that he is here seeking information and says that-

“Two hours ago a young woman died in the infirmary. She’d been taken there this afternoon because she’d swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant”

This shocks the whole family and Mr Birling becomes rather impatient and defensive. Thinking that this will ruin his reputation and he will lose his chance of a knighthood. As Mr Birling believes that his reputation is the most important to him. He remembers her name but cannot really remember who she is. Each character is involved in some way with Eva Smith at different points during the play. Mr Birling is the first of the family to be involved with her....

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