“You’re squiffy” – Sheila to Eric (Act 1)
- Shows Eric/ Sheila’s brother/ sister relationship.
- Colloquial language set period.
- Shows Eric drinks too much.
“I speak as a hard-headed business man.” (Act 1)
- Word choice emphasises lack of feeling.
- Shows Mr Birling is hard-hearted.
- Shows pride in his hard-won success.
“If you don’t come down hard on these people they’ll soon be asking for the earth!”
- Birling uses exaggeration/ hyperbole to suggest the workers are asking for too much.
- Wants to make the workers’ demands seem unreasonable.
“Unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable.” Mr Birling (Act 1)
- Dramatic irony – audience knows something the characters don’t.
- Arrogance of the wealthy – they think their wealth will last forever.
- Titanic is a metaphor for the family and its privileged position.
“We really must stop these silly pretences.” Sheila to Mrs Birling (Act 2)
- Sheila understands the Inspector’s message.
- Characterises Sheila as the only character capable of seeing the truth.
- Shows a division growing between Sheila and her mother.
- Shows that Sheila understands the need to stop lying. (Key theme)
“Girls of that class.” Mrs Birling to the Inspector (Act 2)
- Shows Mrs Birling thinks she is socially and morally superior. A snob.
- Almost as though the poor are by definition squalid and worthless.
- Emphasis on “that” shows her disgust in the working class.
“She was very pretty – soft brown hair and big dark eyes.” Gerald (Act 2)
- Gerald’s language stresses the contrast between Eva and “women of the town” who he calls “hard-eyed” and “dough-faced”.
- By stressing the positive aspects of Eva, it makes her mistreatment seem even more cruel.
“You’re not the kind of father a chap could go to when he’s in trouble.” Eric (Act 2)
- Reveals the lack of love in the family.
- The Birlings are not only hard-hearted towards the working class, but they are also inadequate parents.
- Birling says his son has been spoilt, and he is more concerned with covering up Eric’s wrongdoings so to avoid a social scandal.
“We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.” The Inspector (Act 3)
- Priestley’s address to the audience.
- The core message of the Inspector and the play.
- Directly contrasts with Birling’s message of ‘every man for himself’.
- The message applies to all the characters and the audience.
“Everything’s all right now, Sheila.” Gerald to Sheila (Act 3)
- Shows Gerald as a static character.
- This shows Gerald has not understood the message.
- He cannot see that Sheila has been changed by the revelations.
- He offers Sheila the ring, showing how complacent he is.
“Each of you helped to kill her.” The Inspector (Act 3)
- Priestly uses a climax to emphasise that our actions have consequences.
- The Inspector sums up, showing that the morally neglectful actions of the upper class family have condemned a working class girl to her death.
- Nobody in the family is without blame.
“Look Inspector, I’d give thousands…” Birling to the Inspector (Act 3)
- Birling wouldn’t pay Eva Smith an extra two shillings and sixpence but now offers thousands.
- The offer is meaningless because it is not possible to save Eva now.
- It shows Birling thinks he can solve everything with money.
“We are responsible for each other.” The Inspector (Act 3)
- Goole stresses that it is not enough just to keep to a set of accepted manners.
- We must all behave morally.
- This would have extra resonance before the Second World War – we cannot stand by and let fascism murder millions.
“Look at the way he talked to me…” Birling (Act 3)
- Tone – shocked/ indignant.
- Shows that Birling feels his social status entitles him to different treatment.
“By Jingo! A fake!”
“How do you know it’s the same girl?”
- Colloquial language – particular to the upper class.
- The Birlings are so desperate to believe their own innocence that they are willing to believe a highly unlikely set of coincidences.
“That doesn’t matter to me.” Eric (Act 3)
- The theories of innocence that Gerald and Birling are concocting do not take away the fact that Eric feels guilty for his actions.
- He is not willing to bury his head in the sand and pretend he has done nothing wrong.
“I suppose we’re all nice people now.” Sheila (Act 3)
- Sarcastic tone.
- Sheila is bitter about her family’s reaction.
- She is appalled that they think they have done nothing wrong simply because they think the girl is not dead.
- She wants them to acknowledge that they have behaved appallingly.
“That was the police. A girl has just died – on her way to the infirmary.”
- The twist in the tale.
- Mr and Mrs Birling, and Gerald, must face the reality of their actions.
- Their denial is destroyed.