An Inspector Calls

Birlings family in act one

What is your impression of the Birling family in act one  

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In the beginning of act one there is a sense of order and even warmth among family members. This quickly changes as we discover each family member has secrets and private agendas. At the end of Act One, structured by Priestley so as to end on a point of tension, we discover that it is not just Birling and Sheila, but also Gerald, who is involved in Eva Smith’s demise. The comfortable, warm atmosphere of the opening has been largely destroyed by the time the curtain comes down at the end of the act, with three people so far responsible for Eva’s fate, all responding differently. Significantly, we have little indication of where the play might go next, but the audience might predict that more family members will prove responsible for Eva’s fate as we learn what else happened to her.