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    An Inspector Calls – Characters Overview Essay

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    In the text Birling isn’t aggressive when the inspector arrives but does get more and more annoyed with Inspector ‘(after a pause, with a touch of impatience)’, ‘(rather impatiently)’, ‘(somewhat impatiently.)’On the other hand, Birling in the play, shouts and is very aggressive to try to get rid of him after hearing about the suicide and in the film he is arrogant. Also because he is in a higher class than the inspector, he tries to act superior to inspector and push him around to do what he wants. He does this by boasting to assert his status ‘I was an alderman for years – and Lord Mayor two years ago – and I’m still on the bench’ and by being physically higher than him in the play.

    This doesn’t work because the Inspector knows what is coming to them, doesn’t care or allows himself to be influenced about Birling’s titles and has morals on his side so he doesn’t need to be forceful so he keeps calm. He knows that their secrets will come out and destroy them and this is metaphorically shown by the director in the play by the actors having the risk of actually falling off the house. With the higher classes; also came the assumption and expectance of being allowed to do what they want ‘Both Gerald rise to have a look… They are surprised and rather annoyed.’ The characters in the play are rather ugly which doesn’t fit to the text ‘Gerald Croft is an attractive chap’ but in the film they aren’t ugly because the black and white film was set in a generation were movie stars meant to be handsome.

    In the play, Sheila tries to run away but the Inspector gently but firmly pushes her and forces her to confess. He is half in the light, half in the shadow because he is helping her face up to what she did. She is dressed all in white, which makes her na�ve, pure and innocent, and as her gloves are also white, it accentuates her hand gestures so we are drawn to the fidgeting. As the confession goes on, her voice begins to get more shrill and croaks as she tries to self-justify herself ‘But she was very pretty and looked as if she could take care of herself. I couldn’t be sorry for her.’ She talks straight to the audience so they can witness it too. In the play, the audience are not made sympathetic towards Sheila because she is portrayed as uncaring because she pities herself and so doesn’t seem sorry or feel guilty but the black and white film is more true to text because Sheila is more docile, ashamed and accepts blame but there is a flashback of her shopping which does not happen in the text.

    This shows her trying on a hat not a dress and the director could have put this in to make the audience sympathetic to Eva as well. However, we do see that Eva did laugh at her and that she is mimicked by the music as she walks out so people do feel pity for her. She also faces a mirror when she is making a confession, forcing her to look at herself and accept it. When the Inspector questions her, she admits that she did for her own purposes ‘Because I was in a furious temper’ ‘It was my own fault.’ And that she did it without thinking about the effect on Eva’s life ‘And so you used the power you had… just because she made you feel like that?’

    We then have Eric’s confession where first Mrs Birling comes on stage dressed up with a long necklace of pearls and white gloves. Then the working people come on to see, hear and judge him. The crowd who are behind the Inspector pushes Eric forward and as he is on the same level as them, he can’t hide. There is a row of children in the front who are the generation that are witnessing this and making it not happen in the future. While he confesses, there is grating music which produces an uneasy atmosphere. Eric’s confession is very public and I think the director has chosen to make it this way because it is means that everything is going to come out in the open. Afterwards the yellow sky in the background and solemn music signal a new dawn, a new beginning.

    Mr Birling is so angry there is a fight between him and Eric where Mrs Birling is pushed to the ground. The inspector shouts ‘stop’ in a firm, controlled voice ‘(taking charge, masterfully)’ but it is not to stop the fight: it is to say you can’t continue like this. The Inspector represents the conscience and feelings of the public. He then lectures on morals’ This girl killed herself and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her.

    Remember that. Never forget it.’ ‘One Eva Smith has gone – but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears…We are responsible for each other’ while holding the hand of a boy who is the next generation and who won’t up with the type of behaviour any more. He is also more horrible to older generation ‘(Rather savagely to Mr Birling)’ ‘Remember what you did, Mrs Birling.’ because they don’t show remorse whereas the younger generation will learn from experience.

    The Inspector holds the child’s hand as they walk off-stage. This is to show the new generation trust the inspector. The house starts to break up and all the belongings inside are ruined. This represents all the things that have come out destroying the Birling’s life. While this is happening the sky reddens and then when it is finished, lightens into a rose tint. As red is the sign of anger, I think this means that it represents vengeance. The crowd don’t rush forward but just watch which would not happen in real life. This is because the crowd do not want their property; they want equality among the classes.

    It starts to rain and Sheila takes off her clothes whilst a spotlight is focused on her. The rain symbolises cleansing as Sheila has begun to realise that she does need to take responsibility for her actions and she wants to change her actions in future. This scene makes her look pure and reborn. It also shows the difference between the generations, she is taking off the material that has trapped her into making decisions without thinking or questioning. However the house is restored when they find out the Inspector is a hoax. Birling thinks that everything is o.k and as nobody is hurt that they can go on like they did before in their normal routine.

    The maid is knitting and has no sadness or emotion because she has seen before and Sheila and Eric are next to her. Normally she would have been standing but in these circumstances, she is sitting. Also in the French revolution, while the women were waiting for the people to have their heads chopped off by the guillotine, they would sit round the basket knitting. The Birlings go back into their house and you can hear hideous laughter coming from it showing that they haven’t learnt and have no compassion for anybody. They make fun of the kids in a mocking tone because they think they’re overreacting to the situation.

    Neither the play nor the film is true to the ending. They are all supposed to be there at the end when they receive the telephone call ‘ As they stare guiltily and dumbfounded, the curtain falls’ but in the play the curtain falls leaving just Sheila isolated at the front because she is the only one who has changed. When you think it’s finished the curtain keeps going, showing a different setting with just one kid standing in the house where previously it had been packed.

    Sheila turns around and sees that things will change. It is also the only time when you hear their normal voices because they are shocked. In the film the inspector before being locked in the study gives them a sardonic smile as if he knows what is happening. When they find out the truth about him, he mysteriously disappears with the chair he was sitting in still rocking. The music has a dramatic tone in both things and is staccato in the film at the end. Different images were used from the text in both the film and play because the directors were trying to get the message across to different audiences; but it is still the same message.

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    An Inspector Calls – Characters Overview Essay. (2017, Oct 19). Retrieved from

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