GCSE English Literature: An Inspector Calls

Andrea Leyden
Note by , created over 4 years ago

This note gives an overview of "An Inspector Calls" including information about the author, the plot and the characters.

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Andrea Leyden
Created by Andrea Leyden over 4 years ago
An Inspector Calls
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Page 1

About the Author: JB Priestly John Boynton Priestley was born in Yorkshire in 1894. He knew early on that he wanted to become a writer, but decided against going to university as he thought he would get a better feel for the world around him away from academia. Instead, he became a junior clerk with a local wool firm at the age of 16.When the First World War broke out, Priestley joined the infantry and only just escaped death on a number of occasions. After the war, he gained a degree from Cambridge University, then moved to London to work as a freelance writer. He wrote successful articles and essays, then published the first of many novels, The Good Companions, in 1929. He wrote his first play in 1932 and went on to write 50 more. Much of his writing was ground-breaking and controversial. He included new ideas about possible parallel universes and strong political messages.During the Second World War he broadcast a massively popular weekly radio programme which was attacked by the Conservatives as being too left-wing. The programme was eventually cancelled by the BBC for being too critical of the Government.He continued to write into the 1970s, and died in 1984.

Political Views During the 1930's Priestley became very concerned about the consequences of social inequality in Britain, and in 1942 Priestley and others set up a new political party, the Common Wealth Party, which argued for public ownership of land, greater democracy, and a new 'morality' in politics. The party merged with the Labour Party in 1945, but Priestley was influential in developing the idea of the Welfare State which began to be put into place at the end of the war.

Plot The Birling family are spending a happy evening celebrating the engagement of Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft - a marriage that will result in the merging of two successful local businesses. Yet, just when everything seems to be going so well, they receive a surprise visit from an Inspector Goole who is investigating the suicide of a young girl.Act 1:Mr Birling, his family and Gerald all sit around the dining table after dinner. They talk and Sheila mentions how Gerald did not contact her very much last summer. Eric appears to be a little drunk. Mr Birling gives a short speech on Sheila and Gerald getting married. Gerald gives Sheila a ring. Birling gives a long speech on progress. Sheila & Mrs Birling leave. Birling tells Gerald that he might get a knighthood. Birling talks to Gerald and Eric about the idea of ‘community’. The Inspector enters. The Inspector questions Birling and shows him the photo. Sheila enters and hears about Eva Smith. The Inspector shows Sheila the photo and she runs out. The Inspector talks to the men. The Inspector questions Sheila / she talks about how she knew Eva Smith. The name ‘Daisy Renton’ comes up and Sheila and Gerald have a heated discussion about this.Act 2:Gerald and Sheila argue. Mrs B enters and talks to Sheila, Gerald and the Inspector. Birling enters. The Inspector questions Gerald. Sheila returns the ring to Gerald and he leaves. The Inspector shows Mrs B the photo. The front door slams and Birling leaves then returns. The Inspector questions Mrs B. Sheila cries and Eric enters.Act 3:Eric talks to Sheila, Mrs B, Birling and the Inspector. Eric has a drink. The Inspector questions Eric. Sheila and Mrs B leave. Eric tells the story of how he knew Eva Smith. Sheila and Mrs B return. Eric accuses Mrs B of killing his child. The Inspector makes his final speeches and then leaves. The family argue and question whether he was a real inspector or not. The doorbell rings. Gerald enters. Gerald tells them he wasn’t a real police officer. Birling calls the Chief Constable to check. The family argue. B & Mrs B are happy, while Sheila & Eric are not. Gerald questions if there was in fact one girl that all the separate events happened to and if a girl died at all that evening. Gerald calls the infirmary, who say that no girl has been brought in / they have not had any suicides. Everyone is happy apart from Sheila and Eric. The phone rings and Birling answers. It was the police saying an inspector is coming to ask some questions as a girl has just died on her way to the infirmary.