‘An Inspector Calls’ is an interesting and highly dramatic play. The entire play is based on the suspense of ‘what happens next’. Every so often a dramatic climax occurs in which another more cunning and amazing part of the plot is revealed on how Eva Smith/Daisy Renton decided to end her life. I like this play because of how Priestly continually reveals the plot piece by piece and how he bases his play on the 3 main unities Time, Place and Action, which are essential for a good dramatic play.
The plot is made up of a whole series of mini climaxes or dramatic moments. The play is set in the upper middle class household of a very well to do family the Birlings who make a lot of money from their business. All scenes take place in one room the dining room allowing you to fully understand how the play turns from a family celebration to despair to relief and to complete astonishment by the ending dramatic phone call.Order now
The play is set in 1912 and this was when there was a very high difference between the middle class industrialists and the working class workers and as the play is set in the same place and at the same time all of the action can easily be taken in from the audience and any messages of the plot of the play can be quite easily conveyed. The plot of ‘an Inspector Calls’ is unlike any other I’ve ever seen before. As the play progresses through time you learn piece by piece how every characters’ involvement with Eva/Daisy lead to her eventual death and so you are constantly ‘on the edge of your seat’ waiting for a new dramatic clue of her suicide.
Every character has a very deep personality and as the play progresses you learn of their involvement with Eva/Daisy. All the characters except for Eric and Sheila do not feel sorry for what they each did to her even when they knew that they had helped to kill her and so Priestly uses this to show what the middle classes thought of the working classes at the time and how attitudes soon changed between them after the First World War. Here are the main characters of the play and their involvement with Eva Smith/Daisy Renton.
Arthur Birling is the head of the Birling family. He is a prosperous manufacturer in which he has a well-established business, which is clearly shown by the fact that he can afford a servant – Edna. He’s in his mid to late fifties and started life off in a relatively poorer family then his wife so is not as entirely polished or snobbish as her. He is well built in his stature and manner towards life. He says that “a man has to make his own way – has to look after himself” and is also very pompous and somewhat solemn.
Sybil Birling is also about fifty years old and is the wife of Arthur Birling. She clearly comes from a more superior social position than her husband as shown when she corrects him earlier on in the play. She is cold and has little or no remorse over her involvement with Eva/Daisy and says, “I did nothing I’m ashamed of or that won’t bear investigation” and is very protective over her son Eric until she finds out he’s the father of the illegitimate child.
Sheila Birling is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Birling engaged to Gerald Croft, which is the reason why they are celebrating in the first place until she finds out that he had an affair with Eva/Daisy then she has to have serious thoughts about their future marriage. She shops at Milward’s and this is how she met Eva/Daisy. She displayed a rather cruel and vain attitude in the store and this lead to her getting Eva/Daisy fired from the only real job she ever enjoyed but however unlike her parents and Gerald she feels sorry for her part towards Eva/Daisy’s death and says “I behaved badly too. I know I did. I’m ashamed of it” and also when she learnt that her dad had fired several people and then commented how easy it was to replace them she said “these girls aren’t cheap labour- they’re people!” so its clear to see she has more morals then the rest of her family.
Eric Birling is the son of Mr and Mrs B and the brother of Sheila. He is rather reserved and quiet and keeps mainly to himself until the latter part of the play. He stays out of the older men’s conversation and like his sister doesn’t agree with their fathers and Gerald’s businesses and their work ethics. He likes to drink and often visits the lower degenerate entertainment venues in town, which is how he met Eva/Daisy. He has a very comic attitude towards life and soon comes to realise like his sister “Oh my God – how stupid it all is” and after the inspector has left he says that “its what happened to the girl and what we all did to her that matters” showing that he does show remorse for what he and they did.