"An Inspector Calls" by J. B. Priestley.

Essay by Aly_KA+, September 2005

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Act 1, pages 13-14

Inspector's first interview, with Mr. Birling, in presence of Eric and Gerald

What the act is about:

Birling family and Gerald Croft are having a dinner to celebrate Sheila Birling's and Gerald Croft's future marriage, when all of a sudden an Inspector calls and announces about a suicide which took place a few hours before. He questions Arthur Birling and his daughter Sheila and it turns out that they both knew the dead girl and somehow contributed to her death. Inspector then shows the photograph to Gerald and the impressions on his face give away the fact that he knew the girl. Sheila talks to him while they are along in the room and finds out that the dead girl - Eva Smith - was the girl whom Gerald cheated on her with.

What the extract is about:

- Birling confesses that he knows who Eva Smith is, after Inspector shows him the photograph

- Eric asks to show him the photo but is refused

- She is one of the ex-employees whom he discharged

- Gerald mentions that he is going to marry Sheila - Birling's daughter - and inspector asks him to stay as well

- Inspector says that Birling's action determined what have happened to Eva Smith afterwards and what led her to commit suicide

- Birling says that Eva Smith was leading a strike, asking for more money.

He refused and expelled her

Why I chose this extract:

- The first time a relationship of one of the members of the family with Eva Smith is revealed

- Inspector is questioning Birling, and he is one of the most important characters of the play (Sheila Him)

- Tells us more about Birling's character

- Gives us an idea about what...