'An Inspector Calls' - Act 1 Key Quotations

"A man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own and– [We hear the sharp ring of a front doorbell]"

- MR BIRLING -

CONTEXT:

Long speech on capitalism just before the Inspector interrupts. Socialism vs. capitalism?

THEMES:

Age; Responsibility; Class; Socialism; Capitalism

LANGUAGE:

Long speech = self-importance

Dash = interruption (foreshadowing?)

Stage directions = Inspector's timing

"All mixed up together like bees in a hive"

- MR BIRLING -

CONTEXT:

Long speech mocking socialism.

THEMES:

Age; Responsibility; Class; Socialism; Capitalism

LANGUAGE:

Simile = socialists are like mindless animals.

"Unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable"

- MR BIRLING -

CONTEXT:

Showing off. A long speech about the future and how certain he is that the Titanic is unsinkable.

THEMES:

Age; Class; Control; Arrogance

LANGUAGE:

Repetition = shows certainty, over-confidence.

Dramatic irony = the audience knows that the Titanic does in fact sink.

"I didn't do it. She's upsetting herself."

- THE INSPECTOR -

CONTEXT:

Sheila ran away crying - implies that she is feeling guilty.

THEMES:

Gender; Responsibility; Control; Guilt

LANGUAGE:

Pronoun = the blame is hers. He won't let her escape responsibility.

"Why shouldn’t they try for higher wages? We try for the highest possible prices."

- ERIC -

CONTEXT:

Eric questions his father's decision to sack Eva Smith.

THEMES:

Socialism; Capitalism; Equality; Generations

LANGUAGE:

Question = Eric is directly questioning his father's decision, showing assertiveness and a degree of empathy.

"After all, y’know, we’re respectable citizens and not dangerous criminals."

- GERALD -

CONTEXT:

Gerald believes that because the Birlings are upper class that they are respectable citizens, suggesting that criminals can only be members of the lower class.

THEMES:

Class; Responsibility

LANGUAGE:

Informality = "y'know" could show that he is relaxed and feels in control. Alternatively, it could suggest that he is nervous and trying to reassure himself.