Inspector Calls: Who is to blame for the death of Eva Smith?

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Inspector Calls: Who is to blame for the death of Eva Smith?

        In the play An Inspector Calls in Act Three, the Inspector tells the Birling family,

 “The girl killed herself and died a horrible death”.

But each of the characters helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it. I will now examine each character in turn to assess each person’s responsibility for the death of Eva Smith. I have used source material from a copy of the play and a videocassette of edited highlights based on the production. The story begins when the mysterious Inspector Goole calls unexpectedly on the prosperous Birling family; his startling revelations not only shatter the very foundations of their lives but also challenge us all to examine our consciences.
        Firstly, it must be remembered that the Birling Family are guilty of no actual crime, although all have contributed to the downfall of a particular person due to their particular attitudes and beliefs. Therefore it could be said that Eva Smith was simply a victim of her class and time. The idea of the play, and particularly the role of the inspector are to try to bring the Birling family to understand that they have a moral responsibility for the death of Eva Smith, if not a legal one. This point is very significant and is the basis of the entire play, to grasp it is imperative to the understanding of the play, without this, an analysis of who is responsible would be far more difficult.
        I will begin by discussing the role in which Arthur Birling has played in the demise of Eva Smith. Arthur Birling is a self-made man who has built Birling And Company into a successful local business. As the play opens he is celebrating the engagement of his daughter to Gerald Croft, the son of his main business rival in Bromley, Sir George Croft. The marriage suits him and should greatly aid him financially as he believes a merger of the two companies might not be too far off. This is emphasised when he says,

“It is one of the happiest nights of my life, perhaps we may look forward to a time when Crofts and Birling are no longer competing but are working together for low costs and higher prices¨.

He is shown by J B Priestley to be a pompous, selfish, complacent man, ex-Lord Mayor, potential Knighthood and a sound useful party man who plays golf with the chief of police. Certainly an influential figure within the community, a man that conveys respect.
        By setting the play in 1912, J B Priestley uses complacent irony to show how self-righteous Birling is, examples of this are abundant throughout the play,

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“The Germans don’t want war¨ and “The Titanic is absolutely unsinkable¨ are such examples.

 When the inspector begins to question him, Birling denies any knowledge of the girl, although when presented with a photograph, remembers,

 “She was one of my employees and then I discharged her”.

 Reasons for which later become apparent,

 “She had a lot to say, too much, she had to go¨

Apparently Eva Smith had particular involvement in a strike at his factory. The strike was caused due to poor pay and long hours, although he refuses to accept any responsibility for her death,

”If we ...

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