J. B. Priestley ‘An Inspector Calls’ is a play set in 1912 in the Birling’s family dining room. It was written in 1945 and set in Brumley. It features a typical affluent upper class family who own a well run business. The play starts with a small family celebration in which the daughter, Sheila Birling, is getting engaged to Gerald (a business man of the same class). The head of the family, a very prominent opinionated man, makes several toasts to the couple and lectures them about his knowledge of the world. Everything is going cosily until an unexpected visitor turns up on the Birling family’s doorstep.
It’s a very sleek, mysterious inspector. The Inspector brings news of a young girl’s suicide. The Birling Family and Gerald first deny all connections with the suicide until the inspector rigorously questions each one of them and their shameful secrets are revealed. One of the reasons why J. B. Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’ has remained popular is because there is some hope for the younger generation. During most of the play the atmosphere is depressing, drab and sad. The play is based on the inspector accusing each member of helping with the suicide of the young girl.
The family all concentrate on how it’s not their fault. They try to blame it on each other and remain in a haze of selfishness. Towards the end of the play the younger generation, mostly Sheila, rise above this haze and look at the consequences. Sheila says ‘But you’re forgetting one thing; everything we said had really happened and if it didn’t end with the girl’s suicide, then lucky for us. But it might have done. ‘ Sheila rises above the dilemma and tries to turn the investigation of the inspector from a depressing and pointless conversation to a well learned lesson.
During this Mr and Mrs Birling seem not to care about their harsh involvement with the girl. The younger generation care more and are deeply affected with their participation of the suicide. During ‘An Inspector Calls’ both the children argue with their parents. Eric accuses Mr Birling as ‘Not the kind of father a chap could go to when he’s in trouble. ‘ Mr Birling disagrees sternly with Eric and makes a point that he has treated him more than fairly. Mr Birling argues back with ‘Your trouble is that you have been spoilt. ‘