Wednesday, 23 October 2013

An Inspector Calls Part 2

Anyone remember what actually happened in J B Priestley's famous play adapted for the screen in 

 They were very happy when celebrating their engagement at dinner at the Birlings' home in 1912, Arthur Birling, a wealthy mill owner and local politician, and his family are celebrating the engagement of daughter Sheila to Gerald Croft, Birling's competitor's son. In attendance are Sybil Birling, Arthur's wife and Sheila and Eric's mother, and Eric Birling, Sheila's younger brother, who has a drinking problem that is discreetly ignored. After dinner, Arthur speaks about the importance of self-reliance. A man, he says, must "make his own way" and protect his own interests.

Inspector Goole arrives and explains that a woman called Eva Smith killed herself by drinking strong disinfectant. He implies that she has left a diary naming names, including members of the Birling family. Goole produces a photograph of Eva and shows it to Arthur, who acknowledges that she worked in one of his mills. He admits that he dismissed her 18 months ago for her involvement in an abortive workers' strike. He denies responsibility for her death.

One by one, Goole explains the part that each of the dinner guests played in the tragedy 

 Goole accuses them of contributing to Eva's death. He reminds the Birlings (and the audience) that actions have consequences. "If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." Goole leaves.

Gerald returns, telling the family that there may be no 'Inspector Goole' on the police force. Arthur makes a call to the Chief Constable, who confirms this. Gerald points out that as Goole was lying about being a policeman, there may be no dead girl. Placing a second call to the local infirmary, Gerald determines that no recent cases of suicide have been reported. The elder Birlings and Gerald celebrate, with Arthur dismissing the evening's events as "moonshine" and "bluffing". The younger Birlings, however, realise the error of their ways and promise to change. Gerald is keen to resume his engagement to Sheila, but she is reluctant, since with or without a dead girl he still admitted to having had an affair.
The play ends abruptly with a telephone call, taken by Arthur, who reports that the body of a young woman has been found, a suspected case of suicide by disinfectant, and that the local police are on their way to question the Birlings. The true identity of Goole is never explained, but it is clear that the family's confessions over the course of the evening are true, and that they will be disgraced publicly when news of their involvement in Eva's demise is revealed.

What has all this to do with Jimmy Savile I hear you ask ? Well, I'll leave you to have a think about that one, after all, that's what Mr Priestley wanted you to do is it not ?



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