Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 10, 2023
December 3, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
See discount terms and conditions.
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.
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.
Read an in-depth analysis of Sybil 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.
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.
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.
Read an in-depth analysis of Gerald Croft.
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.
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.
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.