AN INSPECTOR CALLS
A focus on the characters within the play
By J.B. Priestley
LO’S: TO SUMMARISE EACH CHARACTER
• Key words:
- Gender Stereotypes (how men and women were expected to
- Social class (position in society)
- Prejudice (treating someone unfairly because of race/class)
- Morality (doing the right thing)
• What does his first line tell us about his character? “Giving us the Port, Edna? That‟s
right”. How do you think this would be spoken?
• What do you think of Arthur Birling so far and why? You can refer to the words below,
however you must justify your opinions.
• What do we notice about the role of Sheila in the play? Is she more or less important that her
• Do you think she is a good mother from what we have read so far? Explain why
• Snobby and stubborn and at times prudish (doesn‟t like slang!)
• Yawn!! (she isn‟t a very exciting character!)
• Believes she is always right (she doesn‟t change her opinion for anyone!) and BORING!
• Ignorant – She is set in her own ways and class, and doesn‟t believe a girl can have “fine
feelings” (completely disinterested in anyone that is not within her class)
• Lifeless and uncaring – She dismisses Eva/Daisy as just another girl “of that class” or Loyal ( to
• Sheila is an example of a “perfect daughter” brought up in the Twentieth Century (within
her social class- completely spoilt!)
• Discuss from our initial impressions what type of person we think Sheila is… Lively?
Happy? Unselfish? A good daughter?
• Sheila felt threatened by a younger, prettier girl when she went shopping in Milwards.
What does this tell us about her character?
Honest (once she realises the effect her actions have had on Eva/Daisy
Emotional (capable of feelings and is true to them, unlike the other characters)
Instinctive (She sees what the inspector is trying to do, and understands his point)
Able to change
Sheila refers to
him as “poor Eric”.
His dad still
sees him as a
• He is like the „Black Sheep‟ of the family (They don‟t know their son as well as they think!)
• Priestley uses the stage directions not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive to describe Eric.
What could this tell us about his character?
• He is a heavy drinker. What could be the reasons for this?
• Do you think Eric is a good character so far?
• ….. Later in in the Play we see that Eric represents two types of characters:
Victim and Villain (Can you predict why!?)
In Act 3, Mrs.
Birling reveals “I
am ashamed of
you” to Eric.
• The son that Mr. Birling never had! (and he makes this obvious!)
• He is to marry Sheila
• He is wealthy, handsome and an „Idealistic‟ match for Sheila
• A younger version of Mr. Birling (What inspector Goole is trying to get rid of!). This
represents that something needs to change in society else attitudes of snobbery and
traditionalism will continue to be passed down the generation.
• Hypocrite! ( The inspector asks Gerald: “You think young women ought to be protected
against unpleasant and disturbing things?” and Gerald replies “yes”, however….. It was
Gerald who did an unpleasant thing to women like Eva/Daisy!
• Had a personal relationship with Eva/Daisy- Why do we think he actually cared for her?
Could this change our opinion of him?
EVA SMITH/ DAISY RENTON
• Who was she? Do we know? Could she just be a representative of all working
class women who are victims of society?
• Although we never meet her ( because we are told by the inspector that she
committed suicide), she is an important character because she is used as a device
to try and change the Birlings. The inspector says: “There are millions of Eva
Smiths and John Smiths still left” and their chances of happiness are “entwined
with our lives”. What does this say about the role of the Birling family, or the upper
• “Big dark eyes”, “Soft brown hair” , “Fresh and charming” What do these
descriptions make you feel about her character?
• She only became a prostitute because Mr. Birling sacked her from the factory and
Sheila got her fired from Milwards for looking at her n a funny way. This was her
• She wasn‟t a vindictive character like some of the others! Therefore the Inspector
seeks revenge for her
• Goole- Ghouls ? Is there any link here?- Mysterious!
• He has a natural authority throughout the play. How do you think he achieves this?
Tone of voice?
• He has authority, telling Eric to “wait his turn” (He is not afraid of the Birlings)
• He asks personal questions and demands answers ( They are not use to this!)
• He uses emotive language (tries to make them feel sorry and guilty for Eva‟s suicide)
“Pretty and lively” who died in “misery and agony” (about Eva/Daisy)
“Alone, friendless, almost penniless, desperate” (about Eva/Daisy)
• He challenges, questions, demands and makes an impact. What do you think he represents?
WHAT COULD ‘AN INSPECTOR CALLS’ SAY ABOUT THE
ROLES OF MEN AND WOMEN AT THE START OF THE
• Traditional (Gerald and Arthur)
• Have a more important voice than women
• Not that important
• Marry into money
• Occupied with business and work
• Conform to stereotypes ( Act how society
sees them to do so – go shopping, marry,
cry and act hysterical)
• Different rules (Gerald and Arthur allowed
to sleep around before marriage)