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An Inspector Calls- Generational Conflict > Key Quotes Act I > Flashcards

Flashcards in Key Quotes Act I Deck (11)
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1

"You'll have to get used to that, just as I did."

Mrs Birling to Sheila
Harsh advice about married life
Mrs B accepts role as subservient businessman's wife, expects Sheila to do same
Modern audience might see this as uncaring

2

"the things you girls pick up these days."

Mrs B to Sheila when she uses slang term 'squiffy' to say that Eric is drunk
Shows that society is changing - younger people use different language and older people do not approve
'Girls' seems pejorative, as Sheila is a grown woman about to be married
Audience sees that Mrs B is out of touch with her children and modern world outside the dining room

3

"What about war?"

Eric to Mr B
Short, simple question in contrast to Mr B's lengthy speech about business and capitalism
Shows that younger generation are in touch with reality (play set just before WWI and first performed after horrors of WWII)
Audience can relate to Eric's concerns, but his father does not take him seriously

4

"My God!"

Eric's immediate reaction to Inspector's news that a girl has died after drinking bleach
Exclamation mark shows how shocked he is
Shows that the younger generation openly express their feelings
Audience sympathises with Eric, especially in contrast to Mr B's cold response to the news

5

"Why shouldn't they try for higher wages?"

Eric questioning his father about why Eva Smith was sacked
Simple and direct
Shows that younger generation is more open to ideas of equality, and more sympathetic to the plight of the poor
Audience might admire Eric for challenging Mr B's 'hard-headed' business values

6

"Run along."

Mr B to Sheila
Imperative verb form
Trying to protect his daughter from the Inspector's difficult questions in the dining room by treating her like a child
Audience might sympathise with Sheila, given that she is a grown woman

7

"I think it was a mean thing to do."

Sheila to Mr B about sacking Eva for wanting a small pay rise
Like Eric, she questions her father's capitalist values and has sympathy for Eva
However, adjective 'mean' could seem rather childish

8

"But these girls aren't cheap labour - they're people."

Sheila to Inspector, contradicting her father's view of his employees
Emphasis on the word 'people' - Sheila insists that the working classes should be treated with respect, not just as wage slaves to make more money for capitalists like Mr B
Audience might have some respect and sympathy, given that a poor woman has committed suicide
Priestley using character of Sheila to convey Socialist ideas

9

"gives a half-stifled sob, and then runs out"

Stage directions describing Sheila's reaction when the Inspector shows her the photograph of Eva Smith
'Half-stifled sob' - like Eric, Sheila has an immediate and visible emotional response
She is clearly upset
'runs out' - possibly immature and unable to face up to the reality of her involvement in Eva's suicide in Act I

10

"It was my own fault."

Sheila to Inspector
Accepts responsibility for her actions which led to Eva being sacked from Milwards
'my own' - first-person possessive - emphasises that Sheila is behaving like an adult individual
Audience might respect her more than previously as her character is evolving

11

"I'll never, never do it again to anybody."

Sheila to Eric and Inspector
She is promising to never again use her power and status to ruin someone else's life, as she did by getting Eva sacked from Milwards
She seems to have learnt the lesson that the Inspector and Priestley convey: that we are all responsible for each other
The younger generation represent hope for a better, more Socialist future
Audience might admire her willingness to change and evolve