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An Inspector Calls - analysis of main characters

Uploaded by charliethomas on Nov 21, 2001

Text: An Inspector Calls by J.B.Priestly
Productions seen:

  • BBC Television Production (1981)
  • Film Production (1954)

    Part I
    J.B.Priestly's play is set in the spring of 1912 in the household of an upper-middle class family in the north of England. The plot of this dramatic play is based around the Birling family's involvement in a young girl's suicide. The Birling family consists of the two parents, Arthur and Sybil Birling and their two children Eric and Sheila. Gerald Croft is soon to become a member of the family as he has recently announced his engagement to Sheila.

    As the story unfolds we find that each of the family members is partly to blame. Which member however carries the most blame? It is important to realise that J.B.Priestly has made it deliberately difficult to place the blame solely on one person. Having read the play and seen two productions of it, I have come to the conclusion that Mrs Birling is the most to blame.

    This conclusion was founded for many reasons. One such reason was due to the process of elimination. Each Character, although guilty, has different responsibilities and different degrees of blame due to their involvement with the girl, their reaction to the news of her death, how they compare to the other characters and how the audience would or should perceive them.

    If we first take Mr Birling, who is questioned by the Inspector first. Mr Birling is described by Priestly as 'heavy looking, rather portentous...in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners....rather provincial in his speech." Birling is fairly successful in his line of work and is always striving to become better. He is self-important and slightly pompous. He could even be described as old fashioned. However he is a warm character and the audience should perceive him as such.

    Examples of this self importance can be found a lot in the text. For example, on page seven of the text, Mr Birling rambles on about such nonsense like " The unsinkable Titanic", "very little chance of a World War" and of "Russia being technically and socially behind"

    Mr Birling first became acquainted with Eva Smith when she came to work in his factory two years previously. Mr Birling started off the chain of events which lead to Eva's death by firing her from her job for asking for a pay-rise and ( when the rise was refused) for organising a strike.

    Although Mr Birling shows relatively little...

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    Uploaded by:   charliethomas

    Date:   11/21/2001

    Category:   Literature

    Length:   9 pages (1,973 words)

    Views:   2492

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