Summary of an Inspector Calls

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An Inspector Calls, Summary.

The Birling family have sat down to an evening meal, to celebrate the engagement of Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft. Mr. Birling makes grand speeches giving his views on technology and industrial relations, emphasizing his opinion that a man should only care about himself and his family and no-one else. Their evening is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of a police inspector called Inspector Goole. He is making enquiries into the suicide of a young woman called 'Eva Smith'. The inspector has a photograph of the woman and shows it to Mr. Birling first, without letting anyone else see the picture. He admits after much persuasion that he once employed her in his factory but had sacked her over a protest about wages. Gerald Croft backs Mr. Birling’s belief that he acted within reason. Mr. Birlings' daughter Sheila and his son, Eric reacts differently, feeling that their father was harsh in sacking her. Then, the picture of 'Eva Smith' is shown to Sheila, and only Sheila, upon seeing the photograph herself, Sheila realises that she also knew the young woman, as she had complained about her in a shop, and got her fired. During Act I it becomes relatively clear that the inspector has an uncanny knowledge about the family’s involvement with the girl. He then announces that the girl has in fact changed her name from Eva Smith to Daisy Renton. The reaction from Croft makes it obvious that he knows the girl also.

There is by now tension between Sheila and Gerald which becomes heightened when he admits that he had had an affair with Daisy Renton in the spring of the previous year when he was 'busy'. Whilst feeling angry with Gerald for his involvement with the girl she does have a certain respect for his openness and honesty. Mrs Birling makes attempts to intimidate the inspector and control the situation. Despite her attempts, Sheila feels that her mother is just being rude and foolish, as Sheila is rather engaged in the happenings. At...
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