An Inspector Call

An Inspector Call

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An Inspector Call

Responsibility n being responsible; a moral obligation or duty; a
charge or trust; a thing one is responsible for.

Responsibility is very important in the play, because no body was
actually officially fully blamed. So Priestley leaves it up to the
audience to decide who is to blame, if anyone. If the so-called Eva
Smith really existed, and if the inspector was really.

Gerald:"That man wasn't a police officer." (Page 62)

Birling:"There you are! Proof positive. The whole story's just a lot
of moonshine" (Page 70)

At the time Priestley wrote this book there was very large boundaries
between the rich and the poor where huge. So he wrote this book on
responsibility. So from what I know, I think the reason why Priestley
used a rich family to base the play around is because wealthy people
thought they were on a morally different plane. They felt were not
accountable for anything, so Priestly made them vulnerable to show
they were human and so had to conform to the same morals and ethics.

Sheila: "he knows. Of course he knows. And I hate to think how much
he knows that we don't know yet." (Page 26)

This gives the play more power, knowing the rich are vulnerable, even
though they have threatened and attempted to bribe the Inspector to
get out of trouble.

Birling: "How do you get on with our Chief Constable, Colonel Roberts?
I see him fairly frequently. We play golf together" (Page 16)

This extra punch is given because; at the time it was made the rich
were still almost invulnerable, they could not be touched by a
commoner, and yet in this play a complete stranger - who is obviously
less affluent than them, practically demolishes their lives.

The life-style of the poor in that era was extremely bad - they worked
extortionate hours for low pay and lived I slums. This meant the poor
never had a glimmer of happiness:

Gerald: "she was desperately hard up and at that moment was actually
hungry" (Page 36)

The play is the tale of a rich family, that are accosted by a man
claiming to be a police inspector. The family members have sometime
bad to a woman two of them were called Eva Smith and Daisy Renton.
Inspector Goole pulls all of these incidents together and bluffs his
way through the family's questions until they believe that it was a
singular girl.

The family then move through a process of blaming each other for
pushing this girl to commit suicide, and thinking that their lives and
family name is ruined. Then the family discover that Mr Goole is in

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fact not an Inspector and speculate on what he could have been. With
each family member reacting in a different way; the younger generation
still feeling remorse whilst the older and more right wing adults,
ignore the lesson the should have learnt and instead just feel glad
that the have not lost there reputation or fortune.

This makes the audience too wonder who Mr Goole was? Whether he was a
'socialist crank' of the street bluffing his way through the family's
defences; or a manifestation of the family's overall guilt of living a
comfortable life while others starved?

My view is that he was an omniscient catalyst for the family to react
with, so that the family could confess their guilt for mis-treating
the lower classes on a totally abstract level. My reasoning for this
is the way the Inspector knows everything that deserves guilt that was
in the families past. The way he possesses a photograph of all the
girls that were mis-treated by the family even though they were in no
way related.

The Inspector was also an oxymoron and - in terms of power - a counter
weight for Mr Birling. Birling is very loud, and is rarely outspoken.
He thinks a lot of himself and is proud of his social status. He is
openly an extreme, right wing elitist. Due to this he often voices his
hostile views against socialists and communists:

Birling: "But the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you'd
think everyone has to look after everybody else, as if we were all
mixed up together like bees in a hive - community and all that
nonsense." (p10)

Then the Inspector enters. He voices his left wing socialist views,
and balances out the play:

Inspector Goole: "We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We
are responsible for each other." (Page 56)

The Inspector is ultimately the one who forces the audience to
consider responsibility. He brings to light the fact that if we are
responsible for others then this means we will in turn be responsible
for ourselves:

Inspector: " We are responsible for each other…if men will not learn
that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and
anguish." (Page 56)

Then the limelight is stolen from Mr Birling, by a quite but forceful
left wing 'crank', and Birling cannot regain it, not by brute force
neither bribery.

I think the immorality that Mr Birling sinks to without any
consideration is there for Juxta position, to contrast the moral and
sympathetic Inspector. Therefore the story maintains equilibrium.

As the viewer is not sure whether the girl the Inspector presents the
family with is a reality or just his morbid imagination, they are not
sure where to place the blame of her death. Though one thing is for
sure, all characters have done something unacceptable to Eva Smith -
whether she is reality or fantasy - so they are all responsible for
her following suicide in the scenario that the Inspector places in
front of them.

Mr Birling started the chain of events. He gave Eva the sack from his
works, for being a key figure in a workers strike. When confronted
with this by the Inspector he is convinced that he was justified in
this course of action as; if he had agreed to the workers demands he
would have 'added twelve percent onto his labour costs'. Due to this
when he heard that Eva Smith had committed suicide he was utterly
indifferent.

Sheila was also partly responsible for Eva's death as she - in a fit
of jealous rage - got her fired from her last stable and most
enjoyable job:

Sheila: "Yes she was lucky to get taken on at Milwards." (Page 20)

Although she was suitably remorseful and distraught when she found out
about her part in Eva's suicide.

Sheila: "And if I could help her now, I would". (Page 24)

Gerald gave Eva Smith the one glimpse of happiness she would ever get.

Inspector Goole: "She felt there'd never be anything as good ever
again for her - so she had to make it last longer." (Page 39)

This however gave her a look at what her life could be like, this
contrast made her own life seem much worse; so in a way Gerald's
responsibility was greater than anyone elses.

Eric met Eva at a notorious prostitute haunt under the pseudonym of
Daisy Renton. He took her away and raped her through threats when she
objected. His ordeal with Eva was pretty sordid:

Inspector: "used her for the end of a stupid evening, as if she were
an animal, a thing, not a person". (Page 56)

Mrs Birling was the head of a charity for women in need. She turned
away Eva simply because she had at first used the alias Mrs Birling.
This outraged the real Mrs Birling; a poor disgusting dirty, working
class girl besmirching her prestigious family name;

Mrs Birling: "She was giving her self ridiculous airs. She was
claiming elaborate fine feelings and scruples that were simply absurd
in a girl in her position." (p46)

This act of betrayal by Mrs Birling does involve some poetic justice.
Eva was pregnant with Eric's child and so in turning her away she
essentially murdered her own grand-child.

The play was extremely deep. When it is related to world issues, it
shows that unless we - as a global community move away from
capitalism, then we will become isolationist - concerned only with our
personal financial gain; this will alleviate all of our
responsibilities but this will eventually destroy our society.

The play made the audience think about society, community, morals and
ethics, and the real nature of the Inspector as he made a mockery out
of the higher classes. He knew about the up and coming World War,
whereas the rich and powerful - those who should be responsible for
protecting the poor - remained oblivious or ignorant to the situation
that they were causing.

In my view although the Inspector was essentially the 'good guy' he
was most responsible for Eva Smith's death as she was a product of his
omniscient imagination.
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