Character Analysis of An Inspector Calls Flashcards

Who is Eva Smith in An Inspector Calls and what does she represent?

Eva Smith, although not physically present, is central to the plot. She represents the marginalised, underpaid, and exploited working class. Her various identities and hardships symbolise the struggles faced by many like her in society.

How does Inspector Goole serve as a moral compass in the play?

Inspector Goole reveals the characters’ moral shortcomings and serves as Priestley’s mouthpiece for his socialist views. His methodical approach and questioning lead the characters (and the audience) to reflect on their social responsibilities and ethics.

What is Mr Arthur Birling’s attitude towards social responsibility?

Mr Birling dismisses social responsibility, believing in individualism and capitalism. He claims, “a man has to make his own way” and ridicules the idea of community, reflecting the capitalist ideology of the time.

How is Mrs Sybil Birling’s character portrayed in the play?

Mrs Birling is judgemental and hypocritical, turning Eva Smith away from help despite leading a charity. Her refusal to help Eva due to her using the name “Mrs Birling” showcases her arrogance and lack of compassion.

How does Sheila Birling’s character change throughout the play?

Sheila transforms from a naïve, frivolous young woman to a more socially aware and independent character. She becomes horrified by her parents’ views and stands up for justice, indicating her growth and moral awakening.

What is the significance of Eric Birling’s character in the play?

Eric represents the societal pressures on young men and the flaws of the patriarchal society. Despite his troubled nature and involvement with Eva Smith, he shows growth by recognising his mistakes and showing a willingness to accept responsibility.

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