An Inspector Calls

what do we learn about each of the charcters on stage in the opening stage directions?

how might the actors show that the charcter are 'pleased with themselevs'?

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As the curtain rises, the four Birlings—Arthur, Sybil, Sheila and Eric—are seated at the table with Gerald Croft. Edna, the parlor maid, is clearing the table after dinner. The Birlings have just eaten dessert. They are “celebrating a special occasion” and are “pleased with themselves.”

Arthur -Husband of Sybil, father of Sheila and Eric. Priestley describes him as a "heavy-looking man" in his mid-fifties, with easy manners but "rather provincial in his speech.

Sheila-Priestley describes her as "a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited," which is precisely how she comes across in the first act of the play.

Sybil Birling- Priestley has her "about fifty, a rather cold woman," and--significantly--her husband's "social superior." Sybil is, like her husband, a woman of some public influecnce, sitting on charity organizations and having been married two years ago to the Lord Mayor.

Eric Birling-Eric is in his "early twenties, not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive" and, we discover very early in the play, has a drinking problem.

Gerald Croft-He is, Priestley says, "an attractive chap about thirty ... very much the easy well-bred young-man-about-town."



The begining stage directions talks about how they are seated at the table which shows the hierachy of each person. Arthur and his wife ar seated at either end of the table to show their superiority and control. Gerald and Sheila are seated upstage, so we can acknowdge that most of the attention would be on them and Eric is seated downstage which shows that he is of less importance in the family.

Arthur is described as a posh and arrogant snob

Sybil is described as socially superior to her husband, but s also an arrogant snob

Sheila is described as childish and nice

Gerald is described as arrogant and charming

Eric is described as a shy recluse who contrsts to his father.


An inspector calls