“An Inspector Calls” was written by John Boynton Priestly who was born in Yorkshire on the thirteenth of September 1894. When he was sixteen he became a junior clerk with the local wool firm. Whilst working as a junior clerk Priestly became more advanced within his writing career.
Priestly wrote “An Inspector Calls” in the space of one week near the end of world war two. He wrote this play because he was interested in politics and felt the need for a change as to the way poor people were treated by the more higher-class citizens. He expressed his passion in this play to get a message across to the public that there needed to be a change in the social attitude of higher-class people.
In 1984, Priestly died of old age after being made a member of the Order of Merit by the queen. He died at the age of 89.
The play was set in 1912 when Britain still had its empire and was classed as a wealthy country. It was mainly set in the Birling family’s living room, where Inspector Goole questioned each of the five members of the family.
Inspector Goole is part of a police force inspecting the suicide of Eva Smith. Nobody really knows who or what the inspector is by the end of the play, but as far as the characters are concerned he is just an average inspector doing his job. The Inspector appears in the play to be just like any other police officer, he asks questions and tries to find the truth, using any evidence possible.
All characters in “An Inspector Calls” are extremely different. They all have their own views and opinions as to what is right and what is wrong. Mr. and Mrs. Birling are the most similar out of the family. They both think that what they did was right and that they can not take blame for what happened to Eva Smith. But they really played a substantial role in the reason Eva killed herself. For example, Mr. Birling fired her from a good job, just because she wanted a little extra money in her wages, along with a lot of his staff. Mrs. Birling rejected her appeal for help when she was homeless, jobless and had a baby on the way, with an unwilling father.
Sheila and Eric were the most ashamed of what they did to Eva. After they found out about Eva’s death they felt thoroughly guilty and sorrowful. Sheila, out of the five members, played the smallest part of Eva’s depression. It was basically down to jealousy. Sheila had tried a dress on that didn’t suit her, but suited Eva. And because of this, Sheila complained about Eva and got her the sack. On the other hand, Eric had a huge amount of responsibility for Eva’s death, as he was the father of her unborn child. Eric tended to drink a lot, and after a couple of drunken nights Eric managed to get Eva pregnant. He tried to support Eva, but the money he gave her was stolen. Eva found out about this, and rejected the money Eric gave her. So as help, she went to Mrs. Birling’s committee, as explained above.
Gerald, like Eric, also played a substantial part in Eva’s death. Whilst Gerald was with Sheila, he was secretly having an affair with Eva. He gave her a nice home and looked after her, and then after the summer he broke up with her. He left her very upset, and emotionally scarred. The affair lasted at least 6 months, and during that time she had fallen in love with him, and possible he had fallen in love with her.
At the beginning of the play, the Birling family (including Gerald) seemed extremely happy, and close. But after the inspector reveals some of their deepest and darkest secrets, the bond between each individual breaks, and everybody looks differently upon each other. Take Sheila and Gerald. Sheila had no idea that Gerald had cheated on her. At the beginning of the play she was happy as ever when Gerald proposed to her. But then she felt that he couldn’t be trusted, and called off her engagement to him, giving him back the ring he had bought her. Although she didn’t break up with Gerald, she said that it would take time for her to learn to trust him again.
Another relationship that changed was the way the Sheila and Eric both look upon their parents. After the inspector called, they both found that their parents were self-centred and didn’t care about any body except themselves. They learned that they were selfish and ignorant, and Sheila and Eric were both disgusted with their parents, and the fact that they didn’t feel one ounce of guilt towards Eva’s death.
The relationship between Eric and Sheila didn’t change much, except for the fact that they each learnt a more sensitive side to each other, with made the bond between them a lot stronger than it was before. They both had the same opinions on their mother and father, and they both knew that they acted childishly and irresponsibly. Unlike their parents, they managed to learn from their mistakes and take other people into account, whether they have money or whether they haven’t.
At the end of each act Priestly uses the characters to create suspense. At the end of Act 1, the Inspector has started asking Mr. Birling questions about when Eva Smith worked at his factory.
The main moral of this story is that poor people lower class citizens should not be treated differently to higher-class citizens, just because they are not as wealthy. Priestly felt the need to write this book because of the way the public were in his time. He wanted to change the way that poor people were treated, and he felt that to get this message across he should write this play.