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Characterisation in An Inspector Calls Essay


An inspector calls

J.B Priestleys play an inspector calls leaves the impression on the audience, no matter what their political views are, that everyone should take responsibility for their own actions. The play was set in 1912 and it leaves a cliff-hanger for the audience as they make their own opinion on who is responsible for Eva smiths death as the phone rings, announcing an inspector is on his way!.

J.B Priestley crafts a character with selfishness and self centered emotions through the character Mr Birling. The audience first see this in act one when he says, a man has to make his own way but when Eva Smith asked for the wage rates to be raised to twenty-five shillings a week he refused: I refused of-course. I think this was wrong of him because Mr Birling has made it in life and had it easy, he does not have to earn a living of a low wage so he doesnt know what it is like for poor people. H is treating his workers unfairly, this shows how stubborn and greedy he can be.

Then later on that same night Mr Birling was very inpatient with the inspector and doesnt care about the death of the girl. In the end he becomes very suspicious. Throughout the play he is selfish and refuses to show any emotion and feeling of guilt. Then Gerald finds out that Inspector Goole is a fake Mr Birling quickly carries on acting normal as if no one did bad things, like nothing has happened until he gets another phone call that shocks him!.

Priestley then shows arrogance and unreliable behaviour through a different character; Mrs Birling. Mrs Birling point blank refused to help Eva when she asked for help through the Brumley womens charity organisation that Mrs Birling is a Prominent member of. She turns around and says to Eva Smith to go out and look for the babys father and get him to take responsibility for it. She then says I take no responsibility for turning her out of employment. Eventually she owns up to declining any help or support the charity would offer but still refuses to show any pity or remorse.

Priestley also concentrates on a more subtle/ jealous character; Sheila Birling. Through-out the play we learn Sheila is spoilt, guilt-ridden and ashamed when she is also held responsible for playing a part in Eva Smiths death. Sheila feels guilty and does not agree with how her father has acted and is disappointed with his attitude Im ashamed of it Sheila is then scared and very shocked to find out about the girls death she has taken responsibility for playing a part in Daisy Rentons death am I really responsible for this? When Sheila finds out that reporting her resulted in her loosing her job and killing herself, she is later on no more relived to find out it was all a hoax and still felt like she behaved selfishly.

Priestley is saying to us through Erics character that he is very political about the rich and poor and if Eric is stealing from his dads company now then what will he be like in the future?. It he trustworthy to take over the company? Eric represents people who are unhappy with their wealth and who are supported by their parents and behave recklessly. He seems to be telling us that this younger generation of upper class people can change and be more fair. Eric is well educated and has some good morals unlike his dad Mr Birling. Eric used Eva but when she fell pregnant Eric did the right thing and offered her help to solve her money problems. He feels responsible, like Sheila, for what he did to Eva he agrees with Sheila and it doesnt matter to him whether the inspector was being completely honest or not. This shows he is being responsible; It doesnt matter to me, the one I know is dead!.

J.B Priestley represents the character Gerald Croft (Sheilas fianc) as upper class men who use and abuse women. Gerald went out one day to the bar and he saw a girl sitting there called Daisy Renton. At that current time daisy had just lost her job. In return of him helping her out by putting her up in his friends flat and paying for her to live, she was then lead to believe they were seeing each other. Later on in September Gerald said he had to go away on a business trip. He had to split up with Eva because it was risking Sheila finding out about his fling. He dumped her. This lead Eva to have more reasons to kill herself.

Priestley sent out this message to the audience because he believes what happened to the type of person symbolised by Eva, a decent working class man or woman, was morally wrong.

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