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An Inspector Calls

J. B. Priestley

Contents

Character List

Character List

Character List

Character List

Arthur Birling -  The patriarch of the Birling family. Arthur is a “rather portentous” man “in his fifties” who owns a profitable manufacturing company. His business success allows the Birlings to live in upper-middle-class comfort. Birling believes that capitalist principles of individual willpower and the protection of company profits are good for business and good for society. On the night the play takes place, he is hosting a dinner at which Gerald Croft and his daughter Sheila are guests of honor.

Read an in-depth analysis of Arthur Birling.

Sybil Birling -  The matriarch of the Birling family. Sybil is described in the play’s performance notes as “cold.” Though she is pleased her daughter Sheila is engaged to be married, she tends to ignore any potential discord in the family. Sybil serves on a charitable committee in the town, and busies herself with social events befitting a woman whose husband is a business success. She protects what she perceives to be the family’s good image and standing in the community.
Sheila Birling -  Daughter of Arthur and Sybil. Sheila, “in her early twenties,” is engaged to Gerald and believes, at the start of the play, that her future lies bright before her. But knowledge of her role, and the family’s role, in Eva/Daisy’s death devastates Sheila, who wonders how her family can go on afterward, pretending simply that nothing has happened.

Read an in-depth analysis of Sheila Birling.

Eric Birling -  Son of Arthur and Sybil, and older brother of Sheila. Eric works part-time at the family business and has a drinking problem that he hides, with some success, from his parents and sister. When it is revealed that Eric had a romantic relationship with a woman, resulting in a child born out of wedlock, the family must confront facts about Eric’s life, and about their own, which they had sought previously to ignore.

Read an in-depth analysis of Eric Birling.

Gerald Croft -  Fiancé to Sheila, and son of another prominent manufacturing family. Gerald is from a more socially-elevated family, and Arthur worries that Gerald’s parents believe he is making a “poor match” in marrying Sheila. Although the Inspector criticizes Gerald’s affair with Daisy, the Inspector notes that Gerald is perhaps the least culpable, and most morally upright, of all the characters.
Inspector Goole -  A representative, supposedly, of the local police force, sent to investigate Eva Smith/Daisy Renton’s suicide. The Inspector asks all the Birlings, and Gerald, questions about Eva/Daisy. It seems that the Inspector knows the answer to everything he asks, but wants the family to admit to various instances of wrongdoing. At the close of the play, the characters wonder aloud whether the Inspector is actually a policeman, and the constabulary confirms that no such man serves on the force. But this does not explain why the Inspector, who seems to have socialist sympathies, would have come to the house, or how he could have known so much about Eva/Daisy and the Birlings.

Read an in-depth analysis of Inspector Goole.

Edna -  The Birlings’ maid. Edna mostly sets the scenes in which the family eats and talks. She is not, like the Birlings, of the upper-middle class, but instead makes money by virtue of her labor. Edna leaves the room at the end of the play without mention of her absence or whereabouts.
Eva Smith/Daisy Renton -  The victim in the play, and its most mysterious character. Inspector Goole begins by telling Arthur that a girl named Eva Smith has killed herself, and Arthur recalls a girl of that name in his employ whom he dismissed because she asked for a raise. Other characters claim to know different girls of different names, including “Daisy Renton,” who, the Inspector asserts, are all the same person. But the Inspector only shows Eva/Daisy’s photograph to one person at a time, causing Gerald to wonder, just before the play’s end, whether the Inspector has tricked the family into combining incidents involving separate girls into one. This revelation is again undercut when, at the very close of the play, Arthur receives word that an unnamed girl has died in the local hospital from ingesting disinfectant.

Read an in-depth analysis of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton.

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Incorrect Questions

by MrRetno, May 25, 2017

Question 20: Arthur calls the Hospital, but receives a call from the police.
Question 25: Guilt is most definitely a theme in the play; business loans are not.

1 Comments

4 out of 7 people found this helpful

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by LeonMcMillen, July 31, 2017

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mistake

by qwerty1234lol, October 27, 2017

you missed out Sybil birling even though she is an important character
here is some stuff

Mrs Birling is being very arrogant, it is clear that she thinks that she is right "Secondly, I blame the young man" shows that she also has a very ignorant point of view. She brings class into her argument, suggesting that because 'he didn’t belong to her class' then 'that's all the more reason why he shouldn't escape'. Here she suggests that just because the boy might be from a higher class than the pregnant Eva Smith, then the pregnancy... Read more

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9 out of 9 people found this helpful