Are you revising for your GCSE English exam? Here are 5 quotes you can use to analyse the theme of class in An Inspector Calls.
An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley
Did you know: This play was first performed in 1946 in two Moscow theatres. This is due to the fact that no London theatres would present it. Why? Because the socialist views of the play were seen to not fit with the capitalist views of many of the theatre’s visitors.
What is the plot summary of An Inspector Calls?
- An Inspector Calls is a play that centres around the apparent suicide of a young woman named Eva Smith.
- Set on an evening in 1912, the unsuspecting Birling family are throwing an engagement party for their daughter, Sheila.
- They are visited by a Police Inspector known as Inspector Goole.
- The Inspector explains that he is investigating the death of a girl, Eva Smith, who died two hours ago in the infirmary after committing suicide by drinking disinfectant.
- Throughout the play, it transpires that each member of the family had played a part in Eva Smith’s death for different reasons and through different actions. Leading to the core question: Who is responsible for Eva’s death?
- Inspector Goole leaves the family, but the suspicious Mr Birling telephones the infirmary. He finds out that there is no record of a girl dying from drinking disinfectant.
- However, after his conversation ends the phone suddenly rings. Mr Birling answers the telephone and receives the horrific news that a young woman has just died from drinking disinfectant and that the police are on their way to question them about the incident.
- After this, the curtain falls and the play ends.
Priestly’s work was very interested in class and the interrelated theme of social responsibility. Through this play, he is trying to show that the upper class are unaware that the easy lives they lead and a lot of this rests on the labour of the lower classes. Priestly was interested in the class system and showed in his work how this system determines the decisions people make.
What themes are in An Inspector Calls?
Some of the themes you may want to discuss in your GCSE English exam could include:
- Wealth, Power and Influence
- Blame and Responsibility
- Public versus Private
- Social Responsibility
- Morality and Legality
However, today we are going to explore the central theme of class and look at how you can analyse class in An Inspector Calls.
Analysing Class in An Inspector Calls
Part of the GCSE English Literature course involves analysing key themes. It is important to know what the key themes of each text are and how you can analyse them effectively. In analysing class in An Inspector Calls we have chosen 5 key quotes that you can memorise and use in your exam to talk about this topic.
1. “Perhaps I ought to warn you that he’s an old friend of mine”
- When Mr Birling first meets Inspector Goole he attempts to intimidate him.
- He tries to assert himself as Goole’s social superior.
- In this quote, Mr Birling tells the Inspector that he is good friends with the Inspector’s Chief Constable.
- Mr Birling also refers to being an “alderman for years” and “Lord Mayor two years ago”.
- He constantly tries to enforce the idea that the Inspector ranks below him in society.
2. “Girls of that class”
- This is spoken by Mrs Birling when she is attempting to justify why she failed to offer Eva/ Daisy the aid she needed.
- She simply writes Eva/Daisy off as of a lower, less deserving class, incapable of true feelings and honesty.
3. “If you don’t come down hard on these people they’ll be asking for the world”
- This quote is from Birling, explaining why he fired Daisy (as she was called then).
- Birling says that he fired her simply because she asked for a pay rise.
- Both the Inspector and Birling’s daughter Sheila have to remind him that the workers in his factory are not simply “cheap labour”.
- Here we can also see elements of J.B. Priestly’s socialist political views in his writing.
4. In analysing class in An Inspector Calls you can reference one of Inspector Goole’s most famous lines from the play
- This key quote is: “We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.”
- Here the Inspector is clear that we have a duty to each other in society and cannot act alone and selfishly.
- He references the idea of social responsibility, which is closely connected to class.
5. “I became the most important person in her life”
- This is quote is spoken by Gerald.
- Here is he explaining how Daisy (she’s changed her name by this point) reacted to him taking her in as his mistress.
- When Gerald does this he sets her up in a friend’s empty house.
- Daisy is desperate and he takes advantage of her because he is a man with money and she is not.
- This quote also closely links to the theme of gender within the play.
How to best use quotes when you analyse class in An Inspector Calls
When you use these quotes in your essay you must remember to follow these steps:
- Try to use short quotes, like the above 5 quotes. This will help you to spend more time analysing and less time trying to remember your quote.
- Where possible embed the use of quotes into a sentence. Your writing will flow better if you do this.
- Don’t forget: Just remembering quotes is not enough to score highly in your essay. You MUST spend time analysing the quote in relation to the question to get a good grade.
Overall in this article, you have learned 5 new quotes you can use to analyse class in An Inspector Calls. Additionally, we have learnt about how to effectively use quotes in your work and have looked at how, in your essay, you may want to include relevant context to help to further your grade, such as discussing why Priestly might reference class a lot.
If you found this useful, why not check our SchoolOnline’s online GCSE English Language resources. These are designed to help you improve your reading and writing skills so you can boost your GCSE English grade. Find out more here.