Recently we were given the play, “An Inspector Calls” to read written by J.B Priestly. The play was set in spring 1912 in the Birling’s house in Brumley, an industrial city in the North Midlands. The main characters in this play are the Birlings, a middle class family: Arthur the father, Sybil the mother, Eric their son and Sheila the daughter. The other main characters are Gerald Croft, Sheila’s fiancï¿½e and Inspector Goole. The play revolves around the death of Eva Smith who was known to all the family.
The play begins with the Birlings and Gerald Croft sitting round the dining-room table having a dinner party to celebrate Gerald and Sheila’s engagement. Mr Birling is talking to Gerald about how happy he is that his daughter has found someone to marry and that the Crofts and Birlings should join their businesses together. He goes on saying that the world is making the great progress, the Titanic is about to set sail and its going to be the most luxurious and unsinkable liner ever made and that there is no chance of going to war
. While the men are sat round the table listening to Mr Birling giving them a lecture, there is a knock on the door. At the door is Inspector Goole, he goes into the dining room and speaks to Mr Birling. He says: ‘I’d like some information if you don’t mind, Mr Birling. 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. Burnt her insides out of course.’
Mr Birling doesn’t know what this has got to do with him. The inspector then tells Mr Birling the young woman’s name was Eva Smith, the inspector then shows Mr Birling a picture of the girl and the expression on his face changes, indicating to the inspector that Mr Birling knows her. The connection between Mr Birling and Eva Smith is that Eva used to work in the Birlings factory until she and a few of the other girls asked for a pay rise and when Mr Birling refused, Eva argued back and soon after, Mr Birling sacked her leaving her unemployed with no income.
I think that Mr Birling had only a slight involvement with Eva’s. He was the person that started the chain of events leaving her penniless. Mr Birling, with his upper class attitude doesn’t think he has done anything wrong and does not feel responsible for the young woman’s death in any way. The next person the inspector questions is Sheila. When she comes into the room she is upset. Her father has told her what has happened and she feels guilty. Eva had started working in Milwards clothes shop and Sheila went in to buy something new. Sheila decided to try on a dress. She knew once she had tried it on, it looked ridiculous and when Eva looked at her, she thought Eva was looking at her as if too say “doesn’t she look awful”, Sheila was angry and told the manager of the shop about Eva and left the shop without buying anything. Eva was sacked again because the manager thought she was discouraging the clientele.
Sheila feels bad and thinks she is partly to blame as is her father because they both were being selfish and were partially responsible for Eva’s suicide. After inspector Goole had questioned Sheila, he told the family that due to circumstances that Eva Smith then changed her name to Daisy Renton. As soon as Inspector Goole mentions ‘Daisy Renton’, Gerald realises who they are talking about. He recognised the name Daisy Renton.
The connection between Gerald and Daisy was that the previous summer when Gerald wasn’t spending with Sheila, he was also seeing Daisy. He met Daisy one night after work when he went to a bar for a drink. A few nights later, he met up with her again. He found out she was penniless and was about to be thrown out her room. Gerald felt sorry for her and gave her a place to stay, he also gave her money. Eventually he broke it off with her and offered her some money to see her through for a while but she wouldn’t take it because she said he had done enough for her already. Gerald won’t own up to having anything to do with her death. He thinks because he hadn’t had anything to do with this girl for six months, he is blameless.
I think he could have had a little to do with Eva’s death because she really liked him and when he finished the relationship with her, she couldn’t bear it. Mrs Birling also knew Daisy (Eva). Mrs Birling was part of the Brumley Woman’s Charity Organisation and Daisy went to them with her problems; she was pregnant. She wasn’t married and she wasn’t seeing anyone so when she went to the organisation she lied. She said her name was Mrs Birling.
Mrs Birling said there was no way her name could have been Mrs Birling. Daisy admitted saying that it wasn’t her real name and that it had been the first name she had thought of and that she wasn’t married and she was stuck with this baby. Mrs Birlings Organisation turned her away because being pregnant and unmarried was frowned upon. Mrs Birling wouldn’t have anything to do with being involved with the girl’s death she said: ‘ Go and look for the father of the child. It’s his responsibility.’ Mrs Birling didn’t feel responsible in the slightest; she blamed Daisy for getting herself into the situation.