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What impressions have you formed of the characters in Act one of “An Inspector Calls”?

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Introduction

"An Inspector Calls" What impressions have you formed of the characters in Act one of "An Inspector Calls"? The scene starts in Act one with the Birling family sitting around the dining table celebrating the recent engagement of Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft. Everything goes well and everyone seems happy until there's a knock at the door. Edna, the Birling's housekeeper answers the door and let's an Inspector Goole into the house. The Inspector introduces himself then explains how a young girl called "Eva Smith" has committed suicide. This shatters the engagement party and the overall celebration for the whole family. But as events unfold, members of the household seem to have been in some way involved with Eva Smith and perhaps partly to blame for her suicide. Priestley (the writer of "An Inspector Calls") creates atmosphere throughout Act one by the use of his stage directions for how each of the characters should act and behave around each other. He also uses the mysterious Inspector to ask allsorts of potentially offensive and undermining questions to throw the balance and create a tense or dramatic atmosphere Mr Birling is a prosperous factory owner, not the social equal of his wife. ...read more.

Middle

She doesn't seem that affected at the presence of the Inspector until we find out more about her in Act Two where her involvement with Eva Smith is made clear by the Inspector. Sheila Birling is portrayed at first, as being a snobby, spoilt little brat who takes after her mothers view on her social middle-upper class status. It isn't until Inspector Goole asks her questions about her encounter with Eva Smith that her character shows a different, caring side. "I think that was mean to do. Perhaps I spoilt everything for her" This quotation shows Sheila's remorse for reporting Eva to the manager of Millward's (where Eva worked after being sacked at Birling's factory) after she saw Eva laughing at her. It shows her concern and perhaps guilt for her vain and selfish act. When Birling talks of sacking Eva Smith and her friends Sheila defends there side of the argument as 'these girls aren't cheap labour-they're people too'. Apart from defending Eva because of getting her sacked, Sheila might be defending her because she feels some sort of resentment towards her parents for their overall pathetic attitude towards the lower classes and how they mistreat their feelings and needs just because of their class. ...read more.

Conclusion

Inspector Goole is the most significant of all the characters as he brings out all the common questions asked by the audience. He (in my opinion) is used to create the dramatic atmosphere and tension making the play a lot more watch-able. As the Inspector's character becomes more apparent, we begin to see his accusatorial side. 'In fact in a kind of way you might be said to have been jealous of her' This quotation raises the drama and the chance of an argument as a reply, stirring up confrontations. When questioning the household, the inspector stays calm, collected and in control. Using his mild, relaxed authority, he comes across as being very contradictive. This is imposed when the Inspector questions Birling but does not agree with his answers and points he makes: 'No, sir. I can't agree with you there' Being polite the Inspector contradicts Birling (one of many times) as the Inspector can see two sides of the story while Birling cannot. As we can see, the Birling's at the beginning of Act One present themselves as being a normal, rich, upper class family as tension is low and no pressure is being put on them but when the Inspector arrives everything turns around and characters show different sides to themselves. ...read more.

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