In Summary
  • Next in the line of questioning is Sybil, who is identified by the Inspector as the woman heading the charity that had denied Eva financial aid.
  • Sybil is haughty in her rebuttals but eventually acknowledges the destitute, desperate pregnant Eva had requested for support but she had twisted the committee to deny her.
  • The sly Inspector leads the righteous Sybil to agree that the young drunken idler who had made Eva pregnant must accept all the blame.

An Inspector Calls is a play by JB Priestley set in 1912. It was first staged in 1945.

A family of four is enjoying a warm little party, the patriarch Arthur Birling and his wife Sybil Birling, their two children, Sheila and Eric and Sheila’s fiancé Gerard, the son of Croft of Croft Limited. Croft Limited and Birling & Co. are competitors.  

Arthur Birling, a self-important, dominant and arrogant man is enjoying the evening than most after the engagement of his daughter to his competitor’s son.

The union could result in a merger of the two companies. He sees a huge opportunity for himself. He is overriding, a former Brumley Lord Mayor and alderman and a man whose projections finished off the opposite such as the claim the Titanic was “unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable” and about the First World War “to that I say fiddlesticks! The Germans don’t want war”.

The doorbell rudely interrupts their deserved celebration. Their lives will never be the same again.

A DEAD GIRL

An Inspector Goole arrives in the Birling residence armed with a postcard-sized photo of a pretty young woman who had just committed suicide. Arthur Birling is incensed at the interruption and cannot see how the death of a woman he vaguely remembers has anything to do with him or this family. But the assertive Inspector shows him the photograph alone to the chagrin of the inquisitive young men.

Eva Smith, the woman in the picture had apparently committed suicide by ingesting a poisonous disinfectant and had left a telling diary with names that include those of Arthur Birling’s household.

Apparently, Eva had been working at the Birling & Co. mills before she and others had led an abortive worker’s strike agitating for an increment of wages from twenty-two shillings to twenty-five per week.

Together with four other ringleaders they were fired over 18 months prior.

FIT OF JEALOUSY

Sheila joins the unfolding drama and immediately absorbed in the discussion. Sheila seems sympathetic to the misfortune of Eva and when the Inspector allows her to glimpse at the photograph she is instantly heartbroken having recognized the girl.

After being fired from the Birling mills, Eva had got a job at Milwards as a salesgirl where Sheila and her mother frequently shopped.

Out of a fit of jealousy and obvious vindictiveness she had insisted that Eva should be fired. She was more beautiful than her and the dress Sheila wanted seemed to be a perfect fit for Eva.

A MISTRESS

The Inspector tells everyone that after she was thrown out of the Birling & Co. mills she had taken another name, Daisy Renton to be hired at Milwards. The name startles Gerard. His wife-to-be Sheila immediately notices the change.

Sybil, Arthur’s social and moral superior wife joins the unfolding events. Gerard admits to having met a Daisy Renton at the Palace Bar and made plans to meet her often including giving her some money.

According to Inspector Goole, Gerard had made Eva his mistress. Gerard had promised to keep supporting her with money but abruptly ended the relationship.

Page 1 of 2