An Inspector Calls

play written by English dramatist J. B. Priestley

An Inspector Calls is a play written by English dramatist J. B. Priestley, first performed in 1945 in the Soviet Union and 1946 in the UK. It is one of Priestley's best known works for the stage and considered to be one of the classics of mid-20th-century English theatre.


Inspector Goole: One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions and million of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do. We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. (Act 3)

Inspector Goole:This girl killed herself- but each of you helped to kill her.

Eric: Oh - My God - This is all so stupid (act 3)

Inspector Goole: Isn't he used to drinking?

Sybil: No, of course not. He's only a boy.

Inspector Goole: No, he is a young man, and some young men drink far too much.

Sheila: And Eric's one of them.

Sheila: You mustn't try to build up a kind of wall between us and that girl. If you do, then the Inspector will just break it down. And it'll be all the worse when he does. (Sheila recognises what the Inspector is trying to do to her family and in a way, sympathizes towards him. She starts questioning her family and helping the Inspector.)

Inspector Goole: (massively) Public men, Mr. Birling, have responsibilities as well as privileges.

Sybil Birling: I think it was simply a piece of gross impertinence - quite deliberate - and naturally that was one of the things that prejudiced me against her case.

Eric: I did what I did. And mother did what she did. And the rest of you did what you did to her. It's still the same rotten story whether it's been told to a police inspector or to somebody else.

Inspector Goole: But after all, it is better to ask for the world than to take it.

Inspector Goole: (sternly) You see, we have to share something. If there's nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt.

Inspector Goole: (grimly) Don't worry, Mrs Birling. I shall do my duty.

Sheila: (laughs rather hysterically) Why - you fool - he knows. Of course he knows. And I hate to think how much he knows that we don't know yet. you'll see. You'll see.

Gerald: Well … you were right. There isn’t any such Inspector. We’ve been had.

Sheila: But these girls aren’t just cheap labour – they’re people!

Sheila: You're a bit squiffy.
Eric: I'm not.
Sybil: What an expression, Sheila! Really the things you girls pick up these days!

Arthur Birling: (dubiously) I must say, Sybil, that when this comes out in the inquest, it isn't going to do us much good. The Press might easily take it up-

Mr Arthur Birling: I'm delighted about this engagement and hope it won't be too long until you're married. And I want to say this. There's a good deal of silly talk about these days - but - and I speak as a hard-headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he's about - I say, you ignore all this silly pessimistic talk. When you marry, you'll be marrying at a very good time. Last month, just because the miners came out on strike, there's a lot of wild talk about possible labor trouble in the near future. Don't worry. We've passed the worst of it. We employers at last are coming together to see that our interests - and the interests of the Capital - are protected. And we're in for a time of steadily increasing prosperity.
Gerald: I believe you're right, sir.
Eric: What about war?

Inspector Goole: Well, Eva Smith's gone now. You can't do her any more harm. And you can't do her any good either. You can't even say, "I'm sorry, Eva Smith."
Sheila: That's the worst of it.

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