• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

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

Extracts from this document...


"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.


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.


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.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Examine How Priestley Uses a Variety of Dramatic Devices To Highlight the Theme of ...

    When Birling, Eric, Gerald and Shelia gather the fact that the inspector hasn't come just to see Arthur they are shocked. Shelia starts to learn more facts and is against her father, she thinks it was "mean" to let her go.

  2. What do Mr Birling and Sheila show us about the historical context of “An ...

    ought to warn you that he's an old friend of mine, and that I see him fairly frequently. We play golf together up at the West Brumley." The upper class also love talking about their achievements. When Mr Birling is talking to Gerald he boasts that, "there is a fair

  1. Why is the play “An Inspector Calls” still a popular play today?

    this significant speech, and ironically it is the inspector - who makes the following speech later on in the play: "We don't live alone.

  2. How does J B Priestley deliver his moral message in “An Inspector Calls”?

    His name "Goole" suggests ghost or ghoul. By the end of the play, we realise that the Inspector is not a real member of the police force, and then we are left to wonder how he knows all the information he does about the family's relationships with Eva. (To Birling)

  1. Consider the dramatic function of Inspector Goole in the play “An Inspector Calls “ ...

    his questions: Inspector: "Don't stammer and yammer at me again man, I'm losing all patience with you people. What did she say?" The Inspector shouts this phrase at the Birling's, this is incredibly rude and most unlike a Police Inspector, Mrs.

  2. The Inspector is ‘an embodiment of a collective conscience’. How real is the character ...

    (Page 23) "It was my own fault" (Page 17) "If I could help her now I would..." This all implies that naturally Sheila Birling's conscience is always awake. This could also show Sheila's submission to the Inspector. Eric Birling is a shame to the Birling family; his outspoken and rebellious behavior isn't an example of typical Birling etiquette.

  1. Discuss the view of responsibility, guilt and blame for all of the characters in ...

    He can see no connection with the fact that he sacked a girl two years ago and that caused her to commit suicide that day. I not only think he is trying to protect his reputation but also he really thinks he is in the right.

  2. Review of the Royal National Theatre Production of “an Inspector Calls”

    This is one form of dramatic irony. This affects the audience and illustrates to us more of Birling's character. It shows us that he is very optimistic, not just positive, but maybe refusing to see the truth. He is not oblivious to see that war could be near, but he

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work