Inspector Goole claims that “we are all members of one body”. How successful was he in making the other characters understand this? “An Inspector Calls” is set in 1912 before the First World War, and was written in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. So we the audience know things that the characters in the play don’t know, and so Priestley uses dramatic irony. One example of this in the play is at the beginning of the play when Mr Birling is making a speech at the end of their dinner.
He speaks of only good times ahead when we the audience know that this is not true and in a sense so does Eric the Birlings son. He asks of the rumours about war. “You’ll hear some people say that war’s inevitable. And I say-fiddlesticks! ” The entire play takes place in the Birlings dinning room where all the interrogations go on, it is also where the play ends. Mr Birling first reacts to the inspector with curiosity, then with suspicion because he has never heard or seen of this inspector ‘Goole’. Which is strange as they regularly visit the Birlings.Order now
When the inspector starts to interview/interrogate Mr Birling, his attitude to the inspector changes. He is annoyed with the inspector and becomes quite irritated with him “Look here, Inspector, I consider this uncalled-for and officious”. Mr Birling isn’t really interested with the death of Eva; he is more concerned with his wellbeing. This shows he has a superiority complex. When asked about Eva Mr Birling shrugs off all responsibility of her death saying that he was completely in his right to fire her. “And this girl Eva Smith, was one of them.
She’d a lot to say – far to much – so she had to go “. He feels no guilt for her death and only once does he ever fear the inspector, and that is just before the inspector leaves and reminds him that he, Mr Birling most probably started it. Mr Birling fears the worst for himself and then tries bribe the inspector. “Look, Inspector – I’d give thousands – yes, thousands-” So I say that the inspector was not successful is making Mr Birling understand about socialism, only at one time at the end does he begin to understand.
But when he begins to find out that the inspector is a fake, he forgets what the inspector said when he tried to teach him. “Of course. Somebody put that fellow up to coming here”. Sheila is next to face the inspector, she is upset at the beginning when she realises that she knew Eva Smith then explains about how she got Eva fired from Millwards “(Distressed) I went to the manager”. Sheila’s reaction is the opposite of Mr Birlings, she is distort with the guilt of knowing that she helped to kill Eva.
She becomes like a child that has broken their families prized heirloom; she explains and then afterwards, takes in all of what has happened. She also says that she would have done all that she could to help Eva now. “If I could help her now I would – “. What makes Sheila guiltier, is that she fired the girl because of her mood. I believe that Sheila took in what she had done and accepted in full responsibility for her actions, she also feel and shows her guilty conscience towards Eva’s death “If I could help her now, I would-“.