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Identify and Explain Key Characters in 'An Inspector Calls'

In this worksheet, students will revise key facts about each of the characters in 'An Inspector Calls'.

'Identify and Explain Key Characters in 'An Inspector Calls'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   Eduqas, OCR, Pearson Edexcel, AQA

Curriculum topic:   Post-1914 Prose / Drama, Modern Prose or Drama, Post-1914 Play or Novel, Modern Texts: Drama

Curriculum subtopic:   An Inspector Calls

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

                        a detective on a phone

 

What do you know already about the characters in 'An Inspector Calls'?

 

The main characters we meet in the play are: 

Mr Birling - the father

Mrs Birling - the mother

Sheila - the daughter of Mr and Mrs Birling

Eric - the son of Mr and Mrs Birling

Gerald Croft - Sheila's fiance

Eva Smith/Daisy Renton - a girl who we never see on stage but learn has committed suicide. Eva changes her name to Daisy Renton

Inspector Goole - an 'inspector' investigating the death of Eva Smith

 

In the Literature exam, you may be asked to write about how a particular character is presented in 'An Inspector Calls'.

 

Have a go at the following activity to revise the key ideas about each of the characters in the play.

 

You should always refer to your own text when working through these examples.  These quotations are for reference only.

The play opens with the Birling's celebrating an engagement.

Who has just got engaged?

Sybil and Arthur

Eva and Gerald

Sheila and Gerald

Eva and Eric

Who is being described in the following quotation?

 

'...a heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties'.

What does Mr Birling do to Eva Smith?

He gives her a job

He increases her wages

He sacks her

Complete the passage below describing Eva's character in the play.

 

factory

He gives her a job

He increases her wages

He sacks her

How was Sheila involved in Eva's downfall?

Sheila thought Eva was laughing at her when she tried some clothes on in a shop. She told Eva's manager about her behaviour which led to her being sacked

Sheila refused help from her charity

Sheila refused to pay her higher wages

The Inspector tells the family that Eva Smith then changed her name to Daisy Renton.

 

Gerald admits to having an affair with Daisy Renton. Who else has a relationship with her? 

After Eva finds out she is pregnant and refuses Eric's money, she applies to a charity for help but is refused.

 

Which character is associated with this charity?

What does the Inspector try to teach the family? 

 

Detective on a phone

 

Complete the passage below.

Which characters below learn from the Inspector and accept that they have a social responsibility?

 Accepts social responsibilityDoes not accept social responsibility
Mr Birling
Mrs Birling
Eric
Sheila
Gerald

What does Mr Birling represent in the play?

Capitalism

Socialism

  • Question 1

The play opens with the Birling's celebrating an engagement.

Who has just got engaged?

CORRECT ANSWER
Sheila and Gerald
EDDIE SAYS
Did you spot this one? The family are celebrating Sheila and Gerald Croft's engagement. Arthur and Sybil are the first names of Mr and Mrs Birling. Eva is the name of the girl who has died and, although we discover she had relationships with both Gerald and Eric, she wasn't engaged to either of them.
  • Question 2

Who is being described in the following quotation?

 

'...a heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties'.

CORRECT ANSWER
Mr Birling
Mr. Birling
Arthur Birling
Arthur
EDDIE SAYS
This quotation is from the opening stage directions and describes Mr Birling. This quotation really sets Mr Birling up as a pompous character - we certainly see his arrogance shine through in the opening act of the play!
  • Question 3

What does Mr Birling do to Eva Smith?

CORRECT ANSWER
He sacks her
EDDIE SAYS
Mr Birling sacks Eva Smith. She was working in his factory. Mr Birling's actions are questioned in the first part of Inspector Goole's investigation. We learn that Eva Smith was part of a group of women who asked for higher wages and Mr Birling sacked her for having too much to say!
  • Question 4

Complete the passage below describing Eva's character in the play.

 

factory

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to fill all the blanks? Although we don't see Eva on stage, she is a central character in the play. The Inspector's investigation is focused on revealing various aspects of Eva's difficult life and highlighting how the actions of the Birlings and Gerald Croft have had a negative impact on her.
  • Question 5

How was Sheila involved in Eva's downfall?

CORRECT ANSWER
Sheila thought Eva was laughing at her when she tried some clothes on in a shop. She told Eva's manager about her behaviour which led to her being sacked
EDDIE SAYS
How did you do? After being sacked from Mr Birling's factory, Eva got a job in a shop called Milwards. When Sheila tried some clothes on in this shop she thought that Eva was laughing at her and told Eva's manager that she thought this behaviour had been 'very impertinent'. The Inspector reveals that this led to Eva being sacked once again - Priestley shows how Eva's life went from bad to worse!
  • Question 6

The Inspector tells the family that Eva Smith then changed her name to Daisy Renton.

 

Gerald admits to having an affair with Daisy Renton. Who else has a relationship with her? 

CORRECT ANSWER
Eric
EDDIE SAYS
It's revealed that both Gerald and Eric had an affair with Daisy. Gerald met Daisy first and tells how he wanted to protect her and therefore provided her with food and a room. We learn that he ended the affair. She then had to move out of the room but he ensured he left her with some money. It's revealed that Eric meets Daisy in a bar and that he was drunk and treats her badly. We find out that they meet again, at which point Daisy tells Eric that she is pregnant. Eric tries to give her some money but she finds out that he stole this from his father's business. Eric tells how Daisy refused the money because of this and didn't want to see Eric again. Did you use a capital letter for your answer? As the answer is a proper noun this is essential for gaining SPAG marks in the exam.
  • Question 7

After Eva finds out she is pregnant and refuses Eric's money, she applies to a charity for help but is refused.

 

Which character is associated with this charity?

CORRECT ANSWER
Sybil
Sybil Biring
Mrs Birling
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get this one? Mrs Birling admits to being prejudiced against Eva's case and advises her committee to refuse her any assistance. The Inspector reveals how Eva's life just continued to get worse and worse - she was now pregnant, homeless and penniless. Her situation was desperate and the Birlings had one by one pushed her further and further towards desperation.
  • Question 8

What does the Inspector try to teach the family? 

 

Detective on a phone

 

Complete the passage below.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Did you manage to fill both spaces? The Inspector delivers Priestley's socialist message about social responsibility. Some of the characters learn from this, while others seem unwilling to see beyond their own selfish gain.
  • Question 9

Which characters below learn from the Inspector and accept that they have a social responsibility?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Accepts social responsibilityDoes not accept social responsibility
Mr Birling
Mrs Birling
Eric
Sheila
Gerald
EDDIE SAYS
Eric and Sheila are the only ones who really show that they have taken the Inspector's message on board. The others are more concerned with their own reputation and escaping a public scandal! When Gerald reveals the Inspector is a fake, he and the older Birlings are quick to feel relief and celebrate escaping the blame. Meanwhile, the younger Sheila and Eric accept that they still acted irresponsibility whether the Inspector was fake or not! They expressed how ashamed they are with their parents' attitude.
  • Question 10

What does Mr Birling represent in the play?

CORRECT ANSWER
Capitalism
EDDIE SAYS
Mr Birling is a capitalist. As a business owner, he is most interested in his own profits - he aims to keep wages low and prices high. Priestley presents the capitalist attitude as selfish and damaging to those lower in the social hierarchy.
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