An Inspector Calls

by J. B. Priestley

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What caused Eva Smith's death in "An Inspector Calls"?

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Eva Smith is killed by the selfishness of others. She was dismissed from her first job at Birlings for protestsing for worker's rights, then sacked from her job at Milwards at the whim of Sheila Birling. She loses her virtue to the predatory but weak Gerald Croft and becomes pregnant by the spineless Eric Birling. Then she is refused help and support by Mrs Birling's charity committee.

Eva's death would be recorded as suicide as she drank disinfectant, but she was driven to suicide by the actions of all of the guests at the engagement dinner which the inspector interrupts. The inspector sums up the effect that each person had to lead to Eva's death, and gives the characters and the audience a clear moral to the story:

'We are responsible for each other...If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish.'

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