“We do not live alone,” the Inspector says in his final speech, “we are members of one body.” This perhaps is the most important and central theme of the play: that we have a duty to other people, regardless of social status, wealth, class, or anything else. There is, Priestley observes, such a thing as society, and he argues that it is important that people be aware of the effects of their actions on others. The Birlings, of course, initially do not think at all about how they might have affected Eva Smith, but they are forced to confront their likely responsibility over the course of the play.
In 1912 pompous industrialist Arthur Birling, who has hopes of a knighthood, his superior wife Sybil and young son Eric are celebrating the engagement of daughter Sheila to eligible Gerald Croft when they are visited by blunt Inspector Goole. He tells them of the suicide of a young woman named Eva Smith and though they all claim not to have known her the inspector demonstrates that each in their own way contributed to her downfall, by having her dismissed from work or, in the young men's cases, having sexual relationships and then abandoning her. After Goole has left the youngsters feel ashamed and the engagement is halted but Arthur Birling, doubting the inspector's authority, rings the local police station. This is the prelude to a double shock which will lead to the family's humiliation and ruin. Written by don @ minifie-1