An Inspector Calls by J. B. Priestley is a play set in the early 1900’s in the industrial city of Brumley. The Birling family and Gerald Croft is interrogated by a man who calls himself Inspector Goole, and it becomes clear that everyone is hiding something. The inspector controls the pace of the play by dealing with one enquiry at a time, and the tension is gradually built up, and since there is a lot at stake for each of the characters the situation is very fragile. Throughout Act I J. B.
Priestley presents the differences between gender roles, as the men retreat to have their cigars and the women stay and discuss domesticities. The suicide of Eva Smith and the interrogation upon further explores notions of power division, morality and justice seen within the English society. An Inspector Calls is set during the pre-war Edwardian era in an industrial town in the North Midlands of England. It is the year 1912, and social status and wealth plays a vital role in the English society.
The Birling family is gathered for a celebration in the dining room of a “fairly large suburban house”. Although the house is “heavily comfortable”, it is “not cosy and homelike” suggesting that the Birling family do not share a strong bond and that they do not spend much time together. The family is in “evening dress”, symptomatic for the time period, and an indication of wealth and prestige. A man’s role during the Victorian era of the late 19th century consisted of mainly working, supporting the family, and standing upright in the society.
Mr. Birling, the head of the family, is a man of great self-importance and vanity, with the idea that “there is a very good chance of knighthood”; however, he is very parochial and conveys a limited outlook on life, incapable of thinking beyond the comfortable boundaries he has created for himself seen in the dramatic irony in his lengthy speech. Mr. Birling’s daughter’s fianci?? Gerald Croft aligns with Arthur Birling, as he has the same thoughts and beliefs, and more importantly he believes in the same business approach.
He is of a wealthy background, and is perceived to be a well mannered “man-about-town”; however, he has a very superficial and narcissistic mentality. Inspector Goole, is a man in his 50’s dressed in a plain dark suit, he enters on the note “give us some light”, suggesting that he will bring metaphorical light upon the situation. He creates an impression of “massiveness, solidity and purposefulness” in the play, and although Inspector Goole ultimately belongs to the working class, he manages to gain the upper hand with morality and the law on his side.
He portrays a very professional manner as he refrains from drinking, and addresses people eye to eye, which is disconcerting when attempting to tell a lie. Mr. Birling’s son Eric, is a young man with good intentions; however, he is starting to loose himself to his excess of spare time. He is a paradoxical character as he demonstrates both hope for the future, as he is more conscious of the workers, but his drinking, gambling, and womanizing appears to act as a barrier.