The play is set in 1912, and being set at this time there was not only opportunity for predictions but also for a more drastic look at the relationship between rich and poor. An Inspector Calls is a play with many social and political messages. J. B. Priestly believed a great deal in socialism and he used several of his plays to try and influence people to be Socialist as well. The play is set in the house of the Birling family. As soon as the curtains open, it is clear that the family is wealthy because there is high quality furniture and decoration in the house in which the play is set. The family use their house as a status symbol and have decorated it in a way so as to reflect their wealth. We learn this from the 'few imposing but tasteless pictures", which will probably have been chosen because they were expensive, not because they were liked. These pictures also tell us that the Birlings are proud of their wealth and think themselves to be very important but lack the good taste that is present in those who are socially superior to them. The house is described as being 'substantial and comfortable and old-fashioned, but not cosy and homelike".
Summary of plot:.
An Inspector Calls is the story of the visit by an Inspector to an apparently normal family, the Birlings. They are celebrating Sheila Birling's engagement to Gerald Croft, who is also present, when the Inspector arrives telling them of the suicide of a young girl called Eva Smith. At first they deny any knowledge of the girl, but as the play goes on the Inspector manages to show that they all helped kill her. Mr Birling had her dismissed from his factory for demanding a small increase in wages; Sheila ordered her to be dismissed from her job in a shop simply because of her pride; Gerald Croft kept her as his mistress before leaving her suddenly; Eric Birling (Mr & Mrs Birling's son) also had an affair with the girl and stole money to keep her living; and Mrs Birling used her influence to deny help to Eva Smith when she needed it most, driving her to suicide.