The play has three acts that follow each other smoothly. Each act ends on a note of tension, culminating in the final sinister telephone call.
Language, form and structure
An Inspector Calls (Grades 9–1)
The characters speak as the Edwardians did, sometimes using euphemism rather than blunt language, as in, ‘a girl of that sort’ (p. 47) for prostitute.
Sheila uses the image of the ‘wall’ (p. 30) to describe Mrs Birling’s attempt to distance herself and her family from their guilt about Eva Smith.
Mrs Birling refuses to help Eva Smith, and only later becomes aware that Eva was carrying her potential grandchild.
The Inspector is the symbol of justice, Eva Smith is the symbol of the oppressed and the Birlings and Crofts the symbols of wealth, power and social irresponsibility.