An Inspector Calls Billy johnson

Themes in Inspector calls

An Inspector Calls has many themes to the play and most of these are used to give a moral message or to express a view or to show what society of the time was like.


I think most people will agree that one of the main if not the main theme in Inspector Calls is responsibility. When found guilty, Eric and Shiela were two of the characters that took the blame of Eva Smiths's death. Mr and Mrs Birling however tried to avoid taking blame and wouldn't think they were wrong. Here are some quotes showing responsibility:

Mr Birling- ' I can't accept any responsibility.'

Shiela ( to Mr and Mrs Birling) - 'you're beginning all over again to pretend nothing much happened.'

Mrs B. (Talking about Eric) - 'I blame the young man who was the father of the child' ##

##. In this quote, it was when Mrs Birling is being told her involvement with Eva Smith. She had the chance to help Eva but didn't decide to. She then instantly goes to blame Eva and then the 'young man' being Eric. This quote sums up Mrs Birling up in one quote showing that she is a selfish, arrogant, dishonest person with her always trying to get out of this guilt and make others take responsibility. This attitude comes from he being a upper class citizen and thinking that she is always right and better than others.


Politics is also shown throughout the whole book with Mr Birling representing capitalist views and the Inspector and partly Shiela showing socialist views. Quotes:

Shiela - 'Girls aren't cheap labour - there people' pg 19. This quote is a socialist view opinion as socialist represent equality and that all differences should be settled and everybody should have everything equal such as rights and money in a community. This makes the reader think it is unfair on these women because we are all human so why is it so unfair. This is showing socialist views in a good light which is what Priestley wanted.

Mr Birling - 'we employers at last are coming together to see that our interests- and the interests of Capital' pg 6

Mr Birling - 'Probably a socialist or some sort of crank'

Wealth and power (class)

When the play was set ( just before WW1) class division was a very strong part of society and the hierarchy system would effect your life significantly. It also changed people's attitudes

'He didn't belong to her class'

'Girls aren't cheap labour - they're people'

'I went to the manage and told him the girl had been very impertinent'. Shiela had used her power as her being a higher class person and good customer at Milwards to get Eva sacked from her job which demonstrates how unfair it was for lower class citizens in work and how little power they have. She got Eva out of her job just because of her jealousy.

Gender inequality

In the time of the setting of the play, women were not valued as well as men. They didn't have the vote or any politic power. They would either have to marry well to have a good enough life or struggle with a low payed job or even prostitution. Quotes showing this:

'Girls aren't cheap labour - they're people'.

Gerald- 'Young and fresh and charming'. These adjectives are not really the true way of what Gerald did as he is describing her as a vulnerable women that he would have some fun with. He knew he was not going to have any relationship with her but just used her and left her in an even worse mess. This shows how less valued women were than men.

'She's had a long and exciting tiring day' ( saying Shiela should be excused.)

Campaign for the vote


The Inspector is shown as quite a supernatural character as he has such good knowledge on these people with only information from Eva Smith's diary which is quite odd. Also, another Inspector comes straight after him to ask about Eva Smith's death.

'That was the police. A girl has just died'. This line that Mr Birling says at the end is very supernatural as they have just been questioned by a fakeInspector about the same case before the girl had even died so it is not possible how this works giving a really spooky and cliffhanging ending to the play.


Age is a very typical theme in all plays involving families. Eric and Shiela are treated very unfairly by their parents and always being judged when they are grown up children and are adults. Also, they separate into older and younger at the end of the play.

Mrs Birling repeatedly calls Shiela a 'girl' not a lady or women.

'Be quiet, Shiela!'

'Don't be childish, Shiela'

'You two are being childish- trying not to face the facts.' At the end where the Inspector has left, Eric and Shiela are being the honest people and taking blame rightly so for what they caused Eva to do but Mr and Mrs Birling are trying to avoid blame. Sybil Birling was accusing Shiela and Eric of being childish where the 2 adults are trying to get away with this and being dishonest people who are supposed to be setting an example but instead being hypocritical and calling their children childish.


Created with images by conner395 - "Sutherland Constabulary - Constable Alexander Ross 1906"

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