Get here the summary, questions, answers, textbook solutions, extras, and pdf of drama (act/play) “An Inspector Calls” of the Assam Board (AHSEC / SEBA) Class 11 (first year) Alternative English textbook. However, the given notes/solutions should only be used for references and should be modified/changed according to needs.
Summary: In the three-act play, “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestley, the inspector investigates the death of a factory worker and interviews a wealthy family about it. In April of 1912, the story is set at the home of Arthur Birling. Arthur’s daughter Sheila has recently become engaged to Gerald Croft, so the whole Birling family is in a happy mood. Business-wise, the Crofts compete with the Birlings. Arthur is the mill owner and a local politician. Both Arthur and Sybil, his wife, and Eric, his son and Sheila’s brother, are there. Even though everyone knows that Eric has an alcohol problem, they choose to overlook it because Arthur is about to become a knight. He gives a talk in which he advocates individual responsibility.
The celebrations are put on hold upon the arrival of a man named Goole, who introduces himself as an inspector. Goole tells the Birlings that Eva Smith committed suicide by drinking disinfectant and that Smith left behind a diary that suggests the Birlings were responsible. Arthur recognises Eva from the photo Goole shows him. He informs Goole that Eva once worked for him at his mill but was fired a year and a half ago due to her participation in a strike. Arthur claims that he was innocent of Eva’s death.
Even though Sheila doesn’t know her from her father’s mill, she also recognises Eva. She’d run into her at the Milwards department store. Sheila was jealous of Eva, a working-class girl with physical beauty. So, Sheila devised a plan to get Eva fired, and she was successful in having Eva’s employer believe that Eva had done something to offend Sheila. Sheila reveals this information to the police investigator, Goole.
Goole then reveals to the Birlings and Gerald that Eva also went by the name Daisy Renton. After hearing the name, Gerald admits that he once met a woman named Daisy Renton in a bar and gave her money before making plans to see her again. Arthur and Sybil are stunned by Goole’s revelation that Gerald’s mistress was a woman named Daisy (or Eva). Sheila applauds Gerald’s honesty but hands him her engagement ring and cancels the wedding. Saddened, Gerald finally leaves.
As Eva’s story progresses, the severity of her situation becomes more apparent. According to Goole, Sybil is the head of a women’s charity, the same charity that Eva turned to for assistance when she found out she was pregnant, but unfortunately used her name as Mrs Birling, which made Sybil angry. After Sybil portrayed Eva as a liar to the committee, she refused to help her. Instead, Sybil insisted that the drunken man who was responsible for getting Eva pregnant come forward and take responsibility for her and the baby. Goole now questions Eric, who opens up about raping Eva while under the influence of alcohol. He also admits that he continued to see her after that and stole fifty pounds from his father’s business to help her out financially. Both Arthur and Sybil are becoming increasingly frustrated.
Goole lectures the family, saying that they are to blame for Eva’s death. He then leaves the Birlings, making reference to the upcoming World War I as a warning that the only way to learn how to live together as a society is through bloodshed and despair. Gerald then returns to reveal that Inspector Goole might not actually be an inspector after all. When Arthur learns that there have been no suicide reports recently, his loved ones express relief. But Eric and Sheila have both decided to make some positive changes in their lives. Gerald is still set on marrying Sheila, but she has no intention of marrying a man who cheated on her.
Arthur gets a call at the end of the play. A young woman from the area has tragically passed away, and the real police are on their way over. Police are looking into the possibility that suicide by disinfectant was the cause. The Birlings have concluded that it must be Eva and are prepared to have their reputations ruined as a result of the truth coming to light.
Answer the following questions in one or two words.
1. Where does the investigation take place?
Answer: The investigation took place at the Birling family house in the fictional town of Brimley, England.
2. What is the name of the mother of Sheila Birling?
Answer: Sybil Birling is the name of the mother of Sheila Birling.
3. What is the name of the inspector?
Answer: The name of the inspector is Goole.
4. Who is Edna?
Answer: Edna is the maid of the Birling family.
5. Who had taken the name of Daisy Renton?
Answer: Daisy Renton was Eva Smith herself. The name was taken by inspector Goole at the time of the Investigation.
6. Who said, “I say the girl’s dead and we all helped to kill her?”
Answer: Eric Birling said this.
Answer the following questions in a few words.
1. What was the initial reaction of Mr Birling to the manner of the inspector’s questioning?
Answer: At the beginning of the first act, Mr Birling is portrayed by the playwright as an egotistical and clueless character. His demeanour abruptly shifts and he becomes irritated by the inspector’s continued questioning.
2. How does the Inspector react to the agitated response of Mrs Birling at the time of first questioning?
Answer: Sybil was distracted by her conversation with her husband rather than responding to the inspector’s question. He became furious that she was avoiding his question and asked her harshly, “Do you want me to tell you in plain words?”
3. Why does the inspector not show the photograph to all the people at the same time?
Answer: It’s important to note that the inspector did not show the photo to everyone at once; rather, he showed it to one person at a time. He did it to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that everyone in the family was to blame for her death. By showing the photo to each person separately, we were able to get them to feel responsible for her death on their own terms and reveal the truth.
4. Can Eva Smith be seen as a victim of personal and professional exploitation?
Answer: When you consider how the entire Birling family repeatedly harassed and exploited Eva Smith, it’s clear that she was a victim of personal and professional exploitation. In the play, she stood in for the working class, and her plight was symbolic of the oppression that class faced from society’s upper crust. Throughout the conversation, it becomes clear that she was pressured to leave her different jobs and used as a sexual object by her family members, both of which contributed to her ultimate decision to take her own life.
5. What was the size of the photograph of Eva Smith shown by the inspector and what purpose was it meant to serve?
Answer: The photo was roughly the size of a postcard, making it convenient for him to carry in his wallet. It served an important purpose because he intended to keep the photograph secret and reveal it to the Birling family one at a time. This would make it easier for the investigator to learn the specific details of each family member’s connection to her suicide. There’s a chance that not all of the stories we learn about her would have surfaced if they had all seen the photo at the same time.
Answer the following questions in detail.
1. What was the nature of the relationship between Eva and Mrs Birlings?
Answer: In fact, Mrs Birling was the last family member to see Eva Smith alive. When Eva was at her wit’s end and had nowhere else to turn to, she turned to the charity committee she had chaired. Mrs Birling admits that her bias caused the committee to reject her application for aid, leaving Eva with no real choice but to take her own life. Mrs Birling tells the inspector, “In the circumstances, I think I was justified.” Sadly, she feels no remorse for her actions. In fact, Mrs Birlings portrayed Eva Smith in a very uncharitable light, labelling her as an immoral woman who committed adultery by becoming pregnant before she was married.
2. How did Mr Birling deal with the issue of the pay hike demanded by the employees?
Answer: Mr Birling runs the manufacturing company, Birling and Consumers. He thinks his employees are fairly compensated for their efforts. He states that he pays the going rate for his industry, knowing full well that there will be repercussions for his actions. All of Birling and the company’s employees went on strike at the same time. A rate increase to twenty-five shillings per week was requested, up from the current twenty-two and six. As a result of Eva Smith’s leadership of a strike by her coworkers in an effort to secure a pay increase, Mr Birling terminated her employment.
3. How did Eric respond when his relationship with Eva Smith was under scrutiny by the inspector?
Answer: Eric Birling, the couple’s early-twenties-aged son, is described as “not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive.” In other words, he’s not sure of himself. He tries to stand up to his father at some points but is talked down. At dinner, it’s obvious that he’s inebriated, and it turns out that he’s been drinking excessively for a while. Eva Smith was pregnant with Eric’s child when she took her own life, revealing that the two had been having an affair. To help Eva, Eric took money from his father’s business. Act Three sees Eric demonstrating his assertiveness through an emotional attack on his parents and their values.
4. What is the reaction of Mr Birling when he comes to know about the Inspector at the end of the play?
Answer: When Mr Birling picks up the phone, he is informed that a young woman has recently passed away and that an inspector is currently en route to the scene to conduct an investigation. The play comes to a close at this point, and the audience is left wondering who the real Inspector is. The fact that Mr Birling is ecstatic after learning that the Inspector is a sham is demonstrated by the play “triumphantly” being used multiple times. When it becomes apparent that the Inspector may have been a fake, he makes fun of the other people involved in the investigation for having been “tricked” by it.
5. Why does Sheila feel that she has been let down by her family?
Answer: Sheila Birling, the daughter of Arthur and Sybil, is in her early twenties at this point. She is a giddy, naive, and childish young lady at the beginning of the play as she celebrates her engagement with Gerald Croft. The Birlings’ moral compass can be found in Sheila. Very soon after the Inspector’s arrival, Sheila comes to terms with the fact that her anger at Milward’s led to Eva or Daisy’s dismissal, and that Sheila, inadvertently, contributed to their deaths by dismissal and subsequent suicide. Sheila worries about how she will cope with the pain she has caused, both for herself and for Eva/Daisy. She feels hopeless because she can’t change the past, but she’s dedicated to the possibility that her family will evolve in the future. At the play’s conclusion, she is also willing to forgive Gerald his infidelity, despite the fact that it cost Sheila their relationship because he seemed to genuinely care for Eva/Daisy.
6. Comment on the significance of the title of the play. Does it refer only to the Inspector and his identity? Give a well-considered response.
Answer: The title of the play carries a great deal of weight because, from the moment that ‘An Inspector Calls,’ the Birlings’ lives change abruptly, and from this point onwards, they are all confronted with a moral dilemma and guilt that casts a shadow over their entire evening. The play’s title has a lot of significance because of this. The Inspector has the ability to influence an entire family not only by causing their circumstances to become more difficult but also through psychological manipulation. Even before the Inspector arrives at the Birling home for the very first time, it is clear that he is going to have a significant part to play in the sequence of events that will take place. Because of this, the title is not only appropriate but also demonstrates that the Inspector is very central indeed to the play.
No, it does not merely mention the inspector and his identity; rather, it implies wrongdoing, an injustice, and a victim. Thus, the title alludes not only to the inspector but also to the tragedy and the justice system that he represents.
7. How do the different relationships with Eva Smith reflect upon the individuals involved? Present your views on the basis of your reading of the play.
Answer: Although she is never seen onstage, Eva Smith is the play’s central figure. Eva stands for the women who have been wronged by Arthur, Sybil, Sheila, Eric, and Gerald. After Eva/Daisy attempted a strike over low pay, Arthur fired her. Because of her jealousy, Sheila had her fired for being impertinent. Both Eric and Gerald had affairs with her; while Gerald clearly cared about her, Eric’s relationship with her was much more contentious and required him to steal money on her behalf. Symbolically, she is not one person, but rather a group of people who are exploited consistently.
Priestley shows how greed, envy, and other negative emotions can lead to destructive actions. In addition to being a symbol of accountability, Eva Smith forces the Birlings to confront and accept their own personal guilt. She represents the common man and woman of the working class in a capitalist society. She is nothing more than a possession, used and abused by the Birlings, who stand in for the stereotypical bourgeoisie.
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