An Inspector Calls: Characters [1] – Essay Notes [3/4] (English Literature)


AN INSPECTOR CALLS – CHARACTERS 1 (3) So moving on to characters then. With the
Inspector if you want to look at some of the things for him, obviously we’ve got the
timing of his entrance, that’s really important because he breaks off Birling’s speech,
which is representative of him breaking down the kind of capitalist idea. His manner, very
kind of brisk, very to the point he doesn’t kind of fumble around and kind of pander to
Birling’s name dropping, etc. He’s very unique in his way again, and the others notice
that, so again you can highlight it. He’s abrasive. He’ll just kind of get the job
done, he doesn’t care who he pleases or doesn’t please and he rushes them, moving
them forward. So we get this sense from the Inspector that time is really important, and
in fact that should be one of the themes as well, kind of the idea of time and how things
change over time, etc. But he rushes them and in doing so, he tries to get them to a
conclusion. He tries to bring about their redemption or their judgement day, a lot earlier
than it would be, and again, that’s kind of like what a preacher figure does. And again,
one of the things about the Inspector you’ve got to get is he’s Priestley’s mouthpiece.
This is kind of like if Priestley could be in the play, he’d be the actual Inspector;
he’d be getting across things as the Inspector. With regard to Mr Birling then. He’s got
the stereotype of being an upper class man, proud of himself and what he’s going to
do. He’s arrogant. Is he protective of his family when he wants to protect them from
scandal or is that protective of himself? Is he protective of his reputation? Is that
a good thing? Is it because he has to at that level of society? You can question that but
obviously he’s showing his true colours, so it can be argued but it would definitely
be an argument for the sake of arguing than fully believing that yes, he is a protective
and caring father, especially with the revelations we find out about his son. He name drops.
He likes to actually try and get things through. He likes to actually show who he’s connected
to, what he’s done and obviously he tries to drop the idea of a knighthood in as well.
Does he see the error of his ways? Well to what extent, even if he does? So you again
you can mention that there’s this glimmer of redemption open for him but then obviously
he kind of pooh-poohs it himself. His money, power and influence; all that’s really,
really important to him, there’s several points we can say there, especially when he
tries to fix the problem with money. His reputation is something again he’s very
proud of and he expects the respect and that’s one thing that’s really important here.
Just because he is of a higher class, the Inspector should treat him with a certain
level of respect. If we were reading these and the Inspector was speaking in such a way
to someone of a lower class, maybe the expectation would be that the person of the lower class
doesn’t deserve to be spoken to any differently, but here, Birling’s got this idea that he
should be spoken to in a manner fitting of who he is, so again, that’s kind of the
differences in society really being put there. And then there’s the kind of a whole visage
like his whole life. It looks good and he’s there celebrating this engagement and he’s
got the business, but what is he really doing? He’s running slave labour, he’s whoring
his daughter out to a family with more money. He knows nothing of his son and even his wife’s
not really supremely proud of him, or at least his family aren’t. His in-laws aren’t
even proud enough to come to their engagement. I mean there’s a real visage in his life,
he thinks it looks a certain way – or you could say mirage even – he thinks it looks
a certain way but then obviously it’s not. And unfortunately obviously he returns to
his old ways until the second phone call come and then it’s brilliantly kind of left there
just for us to think about, what he’s going to do now when the real Inspector comes. So Mrs Birling; she thinks highly of herself,
she thinks her reputation is all, and I’d put those slightly differently because that’s
kind of like she thinks highly of herself and then she kind of acts as if her reputation
is all and there’s nuances here and obviously you could say ‘proud’, is again like well
they sound all the same, but it’s not really that, this is kind of like the level of expectation
she has for someone of her standing. This is the way she believes she should be. But
then in that again, she’s proud of some of those elements perhaps more to a point
like obviously the ‘safeguarding’ of the name when Eva uses it at the end. She has a high society attitude to staff.
She says you shouldn’t say things to the cook – she mentions something like that
at the beginning – and even in this women’s group that she’s set up, is it just so they
can kind of have the mirage or the visage of actually showing people how they’re going
to help society and what they’re going to do or is it like she actually genuinely wants
to help? Who knows? She doesn’t know her children. She doesn’t know that Eric drinks,
etc., and she tries to belittle Sheila saying ‘well your husband’s going to cheat on
you, deal with it, that’s fine’ and I think she’s got the most terrible action
at the end, that she was set up for it, when she kind of just dooms Eva to having no help
from being here, here, here. I mean obviously you can say like, well if
each of them had known what the other had done and obviously they’d have been a lot
more likely to help, but I think especially in her case where…I mean like you can forgive
some other people, obviously I don’t think you can forgive Eric, but you can forgive
Sheila in a way and just say look, she was having a bad day. All people kind of just
give an account or something in a bad day, maybe not to that extent. And Mr Birling,
he’s a factory owner; he just wants to make money so anyone causing trouble in reducing
his profits you can understand. But here in this place where she’s set up theoretically
just to help people and then she turns someone who’s in desperate need of help away on
such a small thing. Obviously that’s probably the most relevant one. And then obviously
then there’s the irony of her demanding punishment for the person who got Eva pregnant,
etc. And obviously her tune changes when she finds out it’s Eric.
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3 Replies to “An Inspector Calls: Characters [1] – Essay Notes [3/4] (English Literature)

  1. Great points, but maybe slow down a bit. I found myself losing track of what you were talking about because you went through everything so fast! Helpful though 🙂

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