Comparing Power poems

Both Ozymandias and Charge of the Light Brigade are poems about power, though from very different contexts. The former was written in 1817 and the latter in 1854. This might seem quite close together, but, ideologically, they are worlds apart. Tennyson wrote to glorify the power of the British Empire under Queen Victoria. Shelley wrote to mock such pretensions to power by pointing out its ultimate brevity and egocentricity.

Ozymandias is a poem written from the perspective of a man who has been told about a statue in the desert- the statue is of famous powerful pharaoh Ozymandias, but it is now crumbling and destroyed. The poem explores how power can be arrogant and cruel, but ultimately can’t last forever.

Charge of the Light Brigade presents war in a very propaganda form where it is all fun, exciting and adrenalin-packed action, and while there are deaths, they are celebrated rather than being mourned.

Ozymandias’ power is presented as being dictatorial and cruel- this is clear in the description of his statue’s facial expression- “sneer of cold command” and implied through the inscription which appears on the statue’s pedestal: “king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” in which Ozymandias communicate his desire to be dominant over others and cause them reason to fear him. Shelley paints an unflattering picture of the pharaoh, perhaps to show his dislike for monarchs and rulers. This is proved further by his juxtaposed description of the statue as it is ‘now’- a “colossal wreck”, which is in “decay” and “shatter’d”. He emphasizes how the arrogant king’s masterpiece has not lived up to Ozymandias’ expectations. This contrasts with the images of art and nature, which he depicts as being superior and lasting through his description of the artists skills “which yet survive, stamp’d on these lifeless things,” and the unpretentious and neverending landscape “boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away.”

On the other hand, in Charge of the Light Brigade, Tennyson writes “flashed all their sabres bare”. This is a completely different perspective to Ozymandias as the verb “flashed” suggests that light is shining through the dark, it could also represent good piercing through evil . However this is showing us that Charge of the Light Brigade is a completely different tone from Shelley’s very serious and sarcastic tone. In both the ways they are written, Shelley seems to be saying that power corrupts and is ego-driven, whilst Tennyson says it is very active, fun and exciting. In Tennyson’s case this might have to do with him being the Poet Laureate at the time meaning he would have to write propaganda poems for the monarch, Queen Victoria.

Ozymandias is written as a sonnet- which is a form usually reserved for lovers and love poems. I think Shelley uses this form mockingly, as it is about Ozymandias’ love for himself- and it can be seen as ironic, as neither the speaker of the poem or the traveller who told him about the statue love Ozymandias- this is clear through his unflattering descriptions- “wrinkled… sneer… cold… decay.” The irony is also clear in the use of alliteration when he describes the landscape around it- the alliteration “boundless and bare,… lone and level sands stretch…” draws attention to how empty the statue’s surroundings are- this makes the Kings bold statement “Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair” seem ridiculous and pathetic as no-one is looking at all.

Shelley uses enjambment to perhaps represent something ‘ongoing’- which is of course what the Pharaoh wanted: immortality. And to be considered to have been powerful forever.  In Charge of the Light Brigade Tennyson uses repetition at the beginning of lines. For Example “Cannons to the right of them, cannons to left of them, cannons in front of them”. This shows us in straight forward statements how many cannons there were and it gives the soldiers in CLB almost a heroic feel as though they were surrounded, yet they are still happy and excited to fight this battle. In both of the poems the two different poets use some techniques similar however much different tones.

Overall the tone of Ozymandias is mocking and sarcastic- revealing Shelley’s beliefs that a man’s desire for power is incomparable to the power of art and nature. In comparison, Power is sustained through the unquestioning obedience of the powerless in ‘Charge of the Light Brigade.’

Tennyson does commemorate the courage and the bravery of the hapless Light Brigade. The overriding impression the poem gives is jingoistic as he amplifies the actions of the soldiers, collectively referring to them repeatedly as “the six-hundred”, unifying them as a force and honouring the sacrifice of half of that number. The hypophora in “[w]as there a man dismay’d?” reflects the unflinching obedience and stoicism of the soldiers as the verb “dismay’d” suggests them becoming disheartened and could even imply an emotional disobedience to the orders given to them. The response, “[n]ot tho’ the soldier knew/ Some one had blunder’d”, signifies that icy dignity and deference of the rank and file to the commands of their superior officers. The soldier’s lack of “dismay[…]” is a sign of the power and control of the military leadership over its soldiery but ultimately is disturbing in its autocratic assumption that orders will be followed whether or not those orders make sense or send an entire ”brigade” to their deaths. Tennyson does take the opportunity to criticise the mistakes made, however, this is done quite lightly and attention is again drawn to the soldiers themselves- he clearly intended to make their deaths appear meaningful and glorious. Critically, however, the deaths of “the six-hundred” were pointless and no matter how gloriously they fought for their lives, no matter how much they “shatter’d and sunder’d” the “Cossack and Russian”, their deaths were a product of one of the worst mistakes in military history, even if they did prove that the obedience and discipline of the British soldiers was exemplary. More fools them. Tennyson, as Poet Laureate, was likely bound to support the military leadership and so he focuses on the heroism of those who were powerless to refuse the orders given to them and pens this paean to honour the brigade.

Ultimately, both poems present the theme of power, and obedience to those in power. The authorities in both poems expect unthinking obedience from their subordinates. Ozymandias claims it, but is defeated by time itself, and just a little disobedience from the soldiers could have averted the tragedy of the light brigade. Crucially though, both poems indicate the power gained from obedience and how easy it is for authority figures to abuse or misuse that power.

Key Macbeth Quotes

To help you with your studies, here are the best quotes in Macbeth that you should learn.

1. “Fair is foul and foul is fair”

Who: The Witches

When: Scene 1, Act 1

To understand it you must first remember that fair and foul can mean different things, including pretty and ugly or good and bad. This quote would then me good is bad and bad is good. This quote is used by the witches to show that not everything is as it appears, and appearances can be deceiving. This is important in regards to the relationship between Macbeth and Duncan, as Macbeth appeared as a loyal soldier, but he was actually planning to murder the king he had sworn to protect.

2. “Brave Macbeth – Well he deserves that name – Confronted him with brandished steel”

Who: Ross

When: Scene 2, Act 1

The purpose of this quote as well as the rest of this scene is to portray Macbeth as a very strong and loyal soldier, and a hero on the battlefield who fought bravely to protect his king. This is important, as by showing Macbeth to be so loyal to Duncan, it makes his downfall more obvious and shows the start of his multiple acts of evil. Brandished steel refers to Macbeth’s sword, which he used to fight the opposing army.

3. “Stars hide your fires; let not light see my dark and deep desires”

Who: Macbeth

Where: Scene 4, Act 1

It clearly identifies the contrast between light and dark, which represents good and evil. Macbeth says this quote after Duncan announced his son Malcolm as his heir to the kingdom. This announcement makes Macbeth both angry and jealous, but he hopes nobody will see his deep desires as he knows he will get into severe trouble if found out.

4. “Come you spirits, that tend on mortal thoughts. Unsex me here, and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty”

Who: Lady Macbeth

Where: Scene 5, Act 1

She is asking the spirits to strip her of all her feminine weakness and to instead fill her with masculinity, as she fears that her husband, Macbeth, is not strong enough to kill Duncan on his visit, and so she must be ready to kill him herself. Additionally, the prefix ‘Un’ as used in this quote, is frequently used by Shakespeare in Macbeth. This could be to represent how the protagonists are repeatedly trying to undo what has been done.

5. “When thou durst do it, then you were a man”

Who: Lady Macbeth

Where: Scene 7, Act 1

She is basically trying to insult Macbeth, by telling him that he is no longer a man as he is doubting whether he should kill Duncan. Lady Macbeth feels that a real man would be able to kill the king and usurp the crown without questioning it, due to their desire for power. This is a desire that she clearly has, and this quote is also a good example of how she is able to manipulate Macbeth.

6. “I have no spur, to prick the sides of my intent, but only vaulting ambition which o’erleaps itself and falls on the other”

Who: Macbeth

Where: Scene 7, Act 1

This quote is an extended metaphor of how Macbeth’s ambition is like a wild horse. A spur is the back of a boot which makes the horse go faster when it taps them, as it pricks their sides. Vaulting ambition refers to Macbeth’s ambition, and how it is out of control as he becomes consumed by his greed of power. It shows that Macbeth feels his ambition is going to end up leaving him in an unknown and uncontrollable situation.

7. “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand”

Who: Macbeth

Where: Scene 2, Act 2

The key thing to remember in relation to this quote is that Shakespeare uses blood as a metaphor for guilt. Macbeth uses this quote to say that he is so guilty that he is covered in blood, which could also represent the blood of his victims. He feels that even if he washed his hands in the ocean they would not be clean, as because of the amount of blood on his hands he is more likely to make the ocean turn red.

8. “I am in blood, steeped in so far, that, should I wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er”

Who: Macbeth

Where: Scene 4, Act 3

Steeped is the key verb in this quote, as Macbeth feels that the blood has steeped into his body and into his soul, so will remain there forever. Yet this quote also shows that the decisions Macbeth has made have led him to this point, yet if he doesn’t continue to hold onto power it would have all been for nothing. The adjective tedious has many meanings, including tiresome, and boring, this is to show that his actions will be pointless if he stops now.

9. “Here’s the smell of blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand”

Who: Lady Macbeth

Where: Scene 1, Act 5

At this point in the play she deeply regrets her actions and feels remorse for what she has done. She feels that she will forever stink of blood, and no matter what she does that smell will never go away. Remembering that blood represents guilt, this shows that she feels she will remain guilty forever. The reference to Arabian perfumes shows not only her wealth as a queen but also her femininity. Suggesting that the spirits have restored her femininity and she no longer feels strong and masculine, but weak and emotional.

10. “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow”

Who: Lady Macbeth

Where: Scene 2, Act 5

This quote is said by Macbeth towards the end of the play when he discovers that his wife has killed herself. The exclamatory sentence suggests that he is frustrated and shocked at her death. He refers to her life as being a candle, for many reasons, but mainly to suggest that life is precious and delicate, and won’t last forever. The walking shadow however could refer to infinite and eternal darkness he feels is upon him due to the actions he committed.

Charge of the Light Brigade

The structure parallels the feel of a horseback ride- tempo- extensive rhyme-Repetition

Rhyme adds to the repetitiveness and horseback-ness

proud- valiant -heroic- strong-bold- united. = “death or glory”

Tennyson is commending the soldiers – it’s not their fault that there was a mistake. The actual soldiers were not to blame. They weren’t told about the mistake but they still behaved heroically.

Tribute- eulogy -mostly positive but with underlying tone of sadness (“they rode back…not the six hundred”) and also some criticism of the military leaders (“Someone had blundered”)

Tennyson’s poem argues that the willingness of the cavalry to sacrifice themselves—without calling their orders into question—makes them heroes. The poem thus suggests that heroism isn’t just about bravery but also about duty: being willing to obey orders no matter the cost.

As the speaker makes clear, the cavalry’s charge is doomed from the start. They are surrounded by enemy guns, with “cannon to the right of them, / Cannon to the left of them, / Cannon in front of them.” Everywhere the cavalry looks they are “stormed at with shot and shell.” Against these guns, they have only “sabres bare.” In other words, they just have swords—hardly as powerful or intimidating as the big artillery they’re going up against.

What’s more, in order to capture the guns, the soldiers have to ride all the way up to them—a distance of “half a league” (about a mile and a half). This means they have to ride a long way under artillery fire before they can even engage their enemy. The attack is thus desperate and foolish, and the speaker fittingly describes it with horror. It is, the speaker says, like riding “into the jaws of death / Into the mouth of hell.” In other words, the charge is suicidal.

The speaker suggests that the cavalry knows that their charge is doomed before they even start—but they do it anyway. The speaker notes “the soldier knew / someone had blundered.” In other words, the order to charge is a mistake, a lapse in judgment—and the “soldier” knows this, even if his commander doesn’t. One might expect the cavalry to object to the order, since it is a “blunder” which will get them all killed. But the speaker notes, none of the soldiers are frightened or discouraged. Instead, the speaker stresses that the cavalrymen respect their place with military hierarchy. It’s not their job to come up with orders, but to execute them: “Theirs not to make reply, / Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die.”

As the poem celebrates this doomed cavalry charge—and the “hero[es]” who did it—it is thus celebrating two different things at once. On the one hand, the speaker praises the bravery of the cavalrymen, their willingness to ride into a terrifying and horrifying battle. On the other, the speaker celebrates their obedience and commitment to military hierarchy, their willingness to execute an order even if they know it’s a “blunder.” In this way, the poem suggests that heroism consists of both bravery and adherence to duty at once. And it subtly suggests that the blame for this military disaster does not lie with the cavalrymen themselves: they were exemplary soldiers.

Instead, the blame rests with the commanders who sent them on a suicidal mission. Though Tennyson himself supported the Crimean War, the poem might encourage readers to question the military leaders responsible for such a waste of life. But whether the reader leaves the poem in favor of the war or against it, the poem is more concerned with praising the soldiers themselves: celebrating their sacrifice, their bravery, and their commitment to their country.

Inspector: Eric

Eric: Character Analysis

Eric’s position is similar to his sister’s, in that he, too, is wracked by guilt after learning of the Eva/Daisy’s suicide. But Eric’s addiction to alcohol and his moodier, wilder temperament keep him from reasoning as succinctly as Sheila does at the play’s end. Eric believes that he behaved justifiably in stealing from the family business to help Eva/Daisy. And, when he learns that his mother refused Eva/Daisy from her charity despite being pregnant, he is aghast at his family’s lack of sympathy.

Different characters interpret Eric’s alcoholism in different ways. Arthur sees it as a sign of weakness, an indication that Eric is lazy and was spoiled as a child. Sybil refuses to acknowledge that Eric has a drinking problem, despite Sheila’s protestations. And Gerald, though he wants to believe that Eric’s drinking is “normal” for a young man, admits that very few young men drink the way Eric does.

Eric’s treatment of Eva
Eric’s treatment of Eva is an allegory for how most upper class men treated women and viewed sex. Priestley shows how men abused and exploited women, particularly prostitutes, and how
they took advantage of desperate situations some women were in.

➔ Eric recalls how Eva “wasn’t the usual sort,” (Act 3, pg 51), later clarifying, “I hate these fat old tarts round the town,” (Act 3, pg 52).
➔ This is a bigoted description of women, with the profanity “tarts” showing how he shames women for sex work and displaying sexuality.

The audience knew by this point that it was his family’s fault Eva Smith was on the streets.
Eric is therefore blaming the “tarts” for the situation he contributed to. He describes Eva as
not the “usual sort” to justify why he slept with her, suggesting she was a more
respectable, ‘tasteful’ option, but his actions show how hypocritical he is. Priestley
demonstrates how upper class men condemned prostitutes while simultaneously using
them. He suggests women, particularly lower class women and sex workers, were
scapegoats that men used to disguise their own mistakes or flaws.

Alongside his bigotry, Eric objectifies and sexualises women. He describes Eva as “pretty
and a good sport”, (Act 3, pg 52), suggesting his attraction to her was superficial. “Good
sport” connotes kindness or generosity, implying Eva tolerated Eric while he took
advantage of her. “Sport” can also refer to a hunting game, presenting women as prey for

The Inspector emphasises how Eric dehumanised Eva when he describes how he “just
used her for the end of a stupid drunken evening, as if she was an animal, a thing, not
a person,” (Act 3, pg 56), showing how men’s desires were treated with infinitely more
value than women’s.

➔ Eric insists “it was all very vague” (Act 3, pg 52) and he “was in that state when
a chap easily turns nasty,” (Act 3, pg 51). This shows how he didn’t, and won’t,
take responsibility for his actions, because his violence was natural for a “chap” and
he couldn’t restrain himself. Priestley shows how society treated violent
masculinity as if it were natural or even desirable, and so couldn’t be helped.

Inspector -Mr Birling

The wider Gender issue

Eva Smith is a modern woman – she is independent and fights for her own rights and those of others.
Mr Birling is very patronising about women, claiming that they couldn’t organise a proper strike and makes sweeping statements about how they love clothes.
Mrs Birling fulfils old-fashioned female roles. She thinks that women should support their husbands and not speak against them. She also turns against Eva Smith because she is going to be a single mother.

Priestley would have hoped that by the end of the play the audience have questioned their views of stereotypical gender roles.

Mr Birling

Mr Birling is a symbol of traditional patriarchy and sexist values. He expects to be
unchallenged in everything he does, emulating the dominance men had in 1912. He treats
women in a condescending, disrespectful manner, even with his own daughter. Priestley
shows that Mr Birling’s misogyny blinds him to the cruelty of his actions towards Eva Smith,
because he doesn’t recognise her as a human of equal worth.

Men as equals
Priestley demonstrates how Mr Birling prioritises the interests of his fellow men over the
interests of the female characters because he only sees men as his equals.
During his celebratory toast, Mr Birling addresses Gerald directly rather than Sheila. This
implies he cares more about Gerald’s happiness than his daughters or that he’s more
comfortable talking to Gerald as his peer. He tells Gerald, “Your engagement to Sheila
means a tremendous lot to me. She’ll make you happy, and I’m sure you’ll make her
happy,” (Act 1, pg 4).
➔ As well as ignoring his daughter, he makes her engagement all about himself which
suggests he has ownership over her actions and successes. It also conveys his
narcissism (self-obsession).
➔ The phrase “she’ll make you happy” alludes to the belief that a wife’s only duty
was to please her husband, and suggests Mr Birling views Sheila as a gift he is
giving to Gerald. Because he references Gerald’s happiness before Sheila’s,
Priestley suggests Mr Birling is only concerned with pleasing Gerald. He doesn’t think
the relationship should be mutual and equal.

Loyalty to men
After learning of Gerald’s affair, it is evident that Mr Birling sides with Gerald. He doesn’t care
that his daughter has been hurt as the engagement is the most important factor to consider.
It is evident that he doesn’t think a woman should have the right to object to a man’s desires. He says: “I’m not defending him. But you must understand that a lot of young men -” (Act 2, pg 40).

This perpetuates the idea that women should tolerate their husband’s mistreatment of them rather than standing up for themselves.
➔ Mr Birling’s reference to “a lot of young men” shows how society believed men had an
uncontrollable sex drive, and so men’s infidelity was an accepted part of culture.

Inspector/ Gerald

Gerald is described as ‘an attractive chap about thirty, rather too manly to be a dandy but very much the easy well-bred young man-about-town’. Mr Birling is very pleased that Gerald is getting engaged to Sheila because his family are upper-class business owners, Mr Birling hopes they can join forces in business.

At the beginning of the play, Gerald comes across as being confident and charming. This changes after his affair with Eva Smith is revealed. Gerald gives himself away when he hears that Eva changed her name to Daisy Renton. He initially is evasive and tries not to talk too much about it but redeems himself in the eyes of the audience by being more open and honest about it as he talks to Sheila. He lets himself down in the final act by trying to get the family out of trouble, he doesn’t seem to have learned from his mistakes.

  • At the start of the play, he cannot see how he could be involved in Eva Smith’s (Daisy Renton’s) suicide. ‘I don’t come into this suicide business.’. This quote is also a foreshadowing tool used by J. B. Priestley.
  • Page 18: ‘It’s what happened to her after she left Mr Birling’ work that’s important.’
  • Page 26: ‘I don’t come into this suicide business.’
  • Page 31: ‘Mrs Birling, the inspector knows all that. And I don’t think it’s a very good idea to remind him’
  • Page 35: ‘Sorry- I- well, I’ve suddenly realized- taken it in properly- that she’s dead-‘
  • He tries to hide the truth from the Inspector (that he had been involved with Eva/Daisy) from the start, (‘we can keep it from him’) but Sheila criticises this. She noticed how he reacted when he heard the name ‘Daisy Renton’.
  • Gerald met Daisy Renton in the Palace Bar. He rescued her from Aldermand Meggarty and felt sorry for her. He kept her as his mistress for a few months but it eventually came to an end. He was aware that Daisy Renton’s feelings towards him were stronger than his were towards her.
  • Page 37: ‘I want you to understand that I didn’t install her there so that I could make love to her.’​
  • Page 38: ‘I didn’t feel about her as she felt about me’
  • When he starts to talk about her death, he appears genuinely upset and goes out for a walk: ‘I’m rather more – upset – by this business than I probably appear to be – ‘. The audience assume that he has learned his lesson and that perhaps he will change for the better. After all, he had initially acted out of kindness, which suggests that he is not a completely bad character; however, he gave in to lust and cheated on Sheila, dropping Daisy Renton when it suited him so he is far from faultless.
  • The Inspector isn’t as harsh on him as he is on Mr and Mrs Birling – he notes that at least Gerald ‘had some affection for her and made her happy for a time.’
  • Page 71: ‘Everything’s all right now Sheila’
  • When he returns, he has news: the Inspector was an impostor. He returns to the way he was before; the fact that he still did what he did does not make him change like Sheila and Eric. When offering Sheila the ring back, she can’t take it. ‘Everything’s all right now Sheila. (Holds up the ring.) What about this ring?’ She replies, ‘It’s too soon. I must think.’ She needs him to change his attitude and take responsibility for his actions. He forgets how poorly he treated Sheila and Daisy/Eva.

Priestley’s Message (intended authorial effect on audience)

  • He represents the selfish attitudes of the upper class.
  • He played a key part in the ‘chain of events’, contributing to the death of Eva Smith.
  • He lets the audience down; we had hope that he would change his attitudes, but he doesn’t. It conveys how ingrained these attitudes were in the upper class, and how difficult it was to change them.

Inspector: Sheila

Sheila is the conscience of the Birling family. She realizes very soon after the Inspector’s arrival that her anger at Milward’s resulted in Eva/Daisy’s dismissal, and that, because Eva/Daisy went on to commit suicide, Sheila played a role in her demise. Sheila wonders how she will live with the grief her actions have caused, for herself, and of course for Eva/Daisy. She seems genuinely upset and lost, and reminds the rest of her family that they, too, have acted wrongly. She wants the family never to forget what they have done, despite their desire to proceed as though nothing is amiss.

Sheila’s position is, broadly, an empathetic one. Although she does not seem to care much for the Inspector’s implicit critique of capitalism, she does believe that humans are responsible for one another’s good will. She is despondent that she cannot undo what she has done, but is committed to the idea that the family can change going forward. She is also willing, at the play’s end, to forgive Gerald his infidelity, because he appeared to have genuinely cared for Eva/Daisy, even if at Sheila’s expense.

  • She represents (with Eric) the younger generation – Priestley saw them as ‘more impressionable’ – after all, they were the future.
  • She gives the audience hope that their society can improve if people make changes and take responsibility.

Act 1

Pg 3: ‘Yes – except for all last summer, when you never came near me, and I wondered what had happened to you.’
Pg 4:‘Neither do I all wrong’
Pg 5: 1910s Sexism / view of women ‘(Excited) Oh – Gerald – you’ve got it – is it the one [ring] you wanted me to have?’
Sheila had no say as to which ring she wanted, Gerald chooses on her behalf.
Pg 5: ‘Oh-its wonderful! Look- Mummy- isn’t it a beauty? Oh – darling – [She kisses Gerald hastily]’
Pg 6:‘I’m sorry, Daddy [Mr Birling]. Actually I was listening’
Pg 16: ‘Oh- sorry. I didn’t know. Mummy [Mrs Birling] sent me in to ask you why you didn’t come along’
Pg 17: Displays Sheila’s curiosity ‘What’s this all about?’
Pg 17: Only one to react and care about Eva’s death (Eric also cares later) ‘Oh, how horrible! Was it an accident?’Pg 17:‘What was she like? Quite young?’
Pg 19: Socialist View ‘But these girls aren’t cheap labour – they’re people.’
Pg 20: ‘I was there this afternoon- (archly to Gerald) for your benefit.’
Pg 21: ‘(a little crygives a half-stifled sob)’
Pg 22: You knew it was me all the time, didn’t you?
Pg 23: ‘(Miserably) So I’m really responsible?’
Pg 23: ‘I’d been in a bad temper anyhow.’
Pg 23: ‘No, not really. It was my own fault. (Suddenly, to Gerald) All right, Gerald, you needn’t look at me like that. At least, I’m trying to tell the truth. I expect you’ve done things you’re ashamed of too.’
Pg 23: Apologetic‘No, not really it was my own fault.’
Pg 24: Jealousy ‘I couldn’t be sorry for her.’
Pg 24:‘I told himthat if they didn’t get rid of that girl, I’d never go near the place again and I’d persuade mother to close our account with them
Pg 24Spoilt Brat – Rude to Miss Francis for no reason‘I was absolutely furious I was very rude to both of them.’
Pg 24: Apologetic ‘I’ll never, never do it again.’
Pg 24: ‘And if I could help her now, I would’
Pg 26: ‘(laughs rather hysterically) Why – you fool – he knows. Of course he knows. And I hate to think how much he knows that we don’t know yet. You’ll see. You’ll see.’

Act 2

Pg 27: Context‘Then I’m staying.’
Pg 28: Context(To Gerald)‘So that’s what you think I’m really like.’
Pg 29: The first to accept responsibility and take some blame ‘I know I’m to blame – and I’m desperately sorry’
Pg 29: (to Inspector) ‘There’s something I don’t understand about you’
Pg 30: ‘(slowly, carefully now) You mustn’t try to build up a kind of wall between us and that girl. If you do, then the Inspector will just break it down. And it’ll be all the worse when he does.’
Pg 33: ‘He’s giving us the rope- so that we’ll hang ourselves.’
Pg 36:‘Of course, Mother. It was obvious from the start’
Pg 37:(cutting in, as he hesitates) I know. Somehow he makes you.
Pg 42: ‘You might as well admit to it’
Pg 45: ‘Mother, I think that was cruel and vile’
Pg 48: ‘(with sudden alarm) Mother – stop – stop!’
(to Gerald) ‘I rather respect you more than I’ve ever done before.’
Pg 53: ‘This isn’t my fault’ 

Act 3

Pg 56: ‘(who is crying quietly) That’s the worst of it’
Pg 58:But that’s not what I’m talking about. I don’t care about that. The point is, you don’t seem to have learnt anything.
Pg 58: ‘(with sudden alarm) Mother-stop-Stop!’
‘Between us we drove that girl to commit suicide.’
Pg 59: ‘Don’t you see, if all that’s come out tonight is true, then it doesn’t matter who it was who made us confess. And it was true, wasn’t it? You turned the girl out of one job, and I had her turned out of another. Gerald kept her – at a time when he was supposed to be too busy to see me. Eric – well, we know what Eric did. And mother hardened her heart and gave her the final push that finished her. That’s what’s important – and not whether the man is a police inspector or not.
Pg 65:‘But that won’t bring Eva Smith back to life, will it?’
Pg 70: ‘You’re forgetting one thing I still can’t forget. Everything we said had happened really had happened. If it didn’t end tragically, then that’s lucky for us. But it might have done.’
Pg 71: ‘No, because I remember what he said, How he looked, and what he made me feel. Fire and blood and anguish. And it frightens me the way you talk’
Pg 71: Affected by Inspector’s message‘I tell you – whoever that Inspector was, it was anything but a joke.’
Pg 72: Huge change in character, compared to previous quotes (see: Pg5 quote) and for the common role of women at the time. ‘I must think.’
The final line: [As they stare guiltily and dumbfounded, the curtain falls.] 

Inspector: Suicide


The act of killing oneself, or of losing oneself entirely, is central to the play’s events. The play’s predicament is the supposed death of a girl named Eva Smith, or Daisy Renton. Eva/Daisy has killed herself, the Inspector argues, because all society has abandoned her. Her only remaining choice was to end her life. The Inspector sees suicide as the response to a culture of selfishness, which he believes to permeate capitalist society. No one was willing to lend Eva/Daisy a hand, and the Birlings discarded her when she was no longer compliant or useful to them. She had no friends or family to fall back on.

There is a larger “suicidal” idea in the play, not in the literal sense of one person’s death, but on the social plane. The Inspector implies that if men and women continue to behave callously to one another in the industrialized countries of the West, then those countries, as entities, will “commit suicide.” That is, the Inspector’s warning to the Birlings foreshadows the cataclysms of the World Wars One and Two, which the audience in 1946 would understand to follow quickly upon the events of the play.

A character who does not appear onstage in the play, but who is the absent figure around which the action spins. She is referred to as Eva Smith, Daisy Renton, and “Mrs. Birling.” She may be a combination of these young women, or a different person, or a fiction. Whether she is real or not, Eva/Daisy is a stand-in for the girls that Arthur, Sybil, Sheila, Eric, and Gerald have wronged, either separately or together. Eva/Daisy worked for a low wage, and Arthur fired her for attempting a strike. Sheila had her fired for impertinence. Eric and Gerald both had affairs with her, and though Gerald cared for her, Eric’s relationship to her was more vexed, and required him to steal money for her. If Eva/Daisy is a real person, as the last phone call suggests, then the family’s guilt might really knot them together. But if she is not one person, and rather a set of people, this makes her no less substantial as an organizational principle for the work. Priestley demonstrates how selfish, or economically motivated, or jealous behavior can ruin people’s lives. Eva/Daisy is the lesson each character must learn individually.
  • ‘Two hours ago a young woman died in the infirmary’ (IG) …
  • ‘Wretched girl’s suicide’ (Mr. …
  • ‘Lively good-looking girl’ (Mr. …
  • ‘jealous of her’ (IG says about Sheila) …
  • ‘Girls of that class-‘ (Mrs.Birling) …
  • ‘I was sorry for her’ (Gerald)

Conflict in “Inspector”

The theme of ​​Conflict in the text includes disagreements, arguments and battles between characters.Priestley shows that conflict is at the heart of the Birling family by making characters in the same family have opposing views and making them stand up to each other, conveying conflict is present in upper class even though the upper class hid it from society.

Priestley creates conflict between the Inspector and the older Birlings by showing that they attempt to belittle the socialist Inspector.

We’ll talk about conflict between generations in the theme of ‘Age divide between generations‘.

Priestley’s creation of conflict support his message that no one is perfect in society, removing the façade that the upper class had. Priestley also conveys the conflicting views between the upper and lower class.​​Priestley shows his disgust and hate for people who look down on others through the upper class and lower class characters.

The author presents his own hate through the character of Inspector Goole who creates conflict by questioning the actions of the upper class characters.

Priestley also presents class conflict particularly with Mr Birling. At the beginning of the play, Mr Birling is shown to look down on Edna the maid as a lower class person through his treatment of her. To further understand class, read more on the theme of ‘Social Class‘. 

Quotations relating to the theme of Conflict

The audience is told of how Eric took advantage of Eva when drunk, how Mr Birling forced her out of work for voicing her opinion and of Gerald’s loveless attitude. This shows the men to be callous in many respects and to be exploiting women. However, Eric’s remorse also shows how Priestley believed if the men and women all realised the need of change with regards to attitudes to women, things would become better for everyone.

However, Mr Birling not changing his views creates tension and conflict between these two characters.Varied classes are represented by characters from Edna the maid to the wealthy factory owner Mr Birling. Mr Birling is presented by Priestley to look at Edna as below him, this ‘snotty nosed’ idea is shown at the beginning of the play.

The Birlings’ social status becomes a point of conflict amongst members of the family, as the children grow ashamed of their family’s ability to use their influence immorally and the parents remain proud of their social and economic position and do not understand their children’s concern.

At the end of the play, there is conflict between the younger and older members of the Birlings, the younger generation feel responsible (see the theme of responsibility) while the parents and Gerald take it as a joke.

How this theme develops throughout the play

Start:  Mr Birling and Sheila clash with their opposing views on the treatment of lower class workers and taking responsibility.

Middle: Eric and Mrs Birling show a different moral side. Mrs Birling judges Eva Smith and the father of her child immediately, she also judges men that drink and sleep with women of the night. She even said the man responsible should turn himself in and take full responsibility.

She then finds that her son not only drinks, but he is the father of that girl’s child and he picked her up in a bar. She in her head elevated herself from those sorts of people, of course her family could not be like that she was of a much higher social standing.

End: Sheila and Eric have changed as they have learnt from their mistakes, unlike their parents and Gerald Croft.