An Inspector Calls

Eric is the son of the family. He disapproves of his father’s decision to deny Eva Smith’s request for higher wages, and becomes drunk and upset throughout the course of the evening, which prompts Sheila to expose him as a heavy-drinker, unbeknownst to his parents. In the middle of the play, Eric storms out of the house. When Eric returns, he admits to being exactly the person—Eva Smith’s impregnator—that his mother had most blamed for the girl’s suicide, and to having stolen money from his father. His parents are ashamed of him and continue to remind him what he’s done; but he is likewise ashamed of them for overlooking the true significance of the bad deeds that they all have been exposed as having committed. He joins Sheila in her judgment of their parents’ ignorance and in her regard for the significance of the facts at hand.

Eric Quotes in An Inspector Calls

The An Inspector Calls quotes below are all either spoken by Eric or refer to Eric. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dramatists Play Service, Inc. edition of An Inspector Calls published in 1998.
Act 1 Quotes

Birling: It’s a free country, I told them.
Eric: It isn’t if you can’t go and work somewhere else.

Related Characters: Arthur Birling (speaker), Eric (speaker), Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3 Quotes

There’ll be plenty of time, when I’ve gone, for you all to adjust your family relationships.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Arthur Birling, Mrs. Birling, Sheila, Gerald Croft, Eric
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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This girl killed herself—and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it. But then I don’t think you ever will.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Arthur Birling, Mrs. Birling, Sheila, Gerald Croft, Eric, Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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Whoever that chap was, the fact remains that I did what I did. And Mother did what she did. And the rest of you did what you did to her. It’s still the same rotten story whether it’s been told to a police inspector or to somebody else.

Related Characters: Eric (speaker), Mrs. Birling, Inspector Goole
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

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Eric Character Timeline in An Inspector Calls

The timeline below shows where the character Eric appears in An Inspector Calls. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...and appears to be excited about life. Gerald Croft is an attractive thirty-year old man-about-town. Eric is in his mid-twenties and appears a little uneasy. The family is celebrating a special... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Eric begins to laugh uncontrollably and rises from his chair. Sheila inquires what he is laughing... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...and to rest assured that the notion that war is inevitable is “fiddlesticks.” He promises Eric, Gerald, and Sheila that in twenty or thirty years everyone will have forgotten about the... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Mrs. Birling leaves with Sheila and Eric, who is whistling “Rule Britannia,” and Birling sits down with Gerald. Birling tells Gerald, in... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Eric re-enters the room, sits down and pours himself a glass of port. He reports, dismissively,... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Birling begins in again on his lecture. He tells Eric and Gerald that a man has to “make his own way,” and not listen to... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Gerald and Eric attempt to look at the photograph as well, but the Inspector does not allow them,... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...that he does remember Eva Smith, and that he had discharged her from his factory. Eric wonders aloud whether it was because of Birling’s discharging her that she killed herself. Gerald... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Eric chimes in with a reference to his father’s previous pep talk, and Birling explains to... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
After the Inspector expresses allegiance with Eric’s disapproval, Birling inquires how well the Inspector knows Chief Constable. The Inspector replies that he... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Eric continues to ask his father why the girls shouldn’t have demanded higher wages, and adds... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...but the Inspector reiterates his preference for maintaining one line of inquiry at a time. Eric exasperatedly interjects that he’s had enough and makes to leave, but the Inspector insists that... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...mention of the name, Gerald looks startled and pours himself a drink. The Inspector and Eric depart, leaving Gerald and Sheila alone; Sheila questions Gerald about his startling at Daisy’s name,... (full context)
Act 2
Public versus Private Theme Icon
Mrs. Birling reports that her husband is in the other room calming Eric down from his excitable mood. When she explains that her son isn’t used to drinking... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Birling enters and reports that Eric has refused to go to bed as his father asked him, because the Inspector has... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
The front door slams, and there is some question about whether Gerald has returned or Eric has left. The Inspector continues his interrogation of Mrs. Birling by identifying her as a... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...if she doesn’t see what’s going on, right after the Inspector voices his eagerness for Eric’s return. When the door slams, signifying Eric’s return, Mrs. Birling finally understands and asks the... (full context)
Act 3
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
The scene is the same as at the end of Act 2. Eric is standing near the entrance of the room and asks if they know. The Inspector... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Eric pours himself a drink and begins to explain his story: he met the girl the... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
When Mr. Birling asks where the fifty pounds came from, Eric confesses that he took it from his father’s office. Mrs. Birling enters again, curious, and... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
The Inspector leadingly asks Eric if the girl found out that his money had been stolen, and Eric says that... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Sheila is left crying, Mrs. Birling is collapsed in a chair, Eric is brooding, and Birling pours himself a drink and then tells Eric that he considers... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...matches his description. Birling exclaims that this makes all the difference, and again Sheila and Eric insist that it doesn’t. Birling reasons that the inspection was probably set up by someone... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Birling demands that Eric, who is looking sulky, begin to take some interest in the matter. Eric responds that... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Gerald proposes that the one fact that Eric and Sheila are assigning great significance—that Eva Smith is dead—may not even be a fact... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Eric still doesn’t believe Gerald’s claim, and insists that the girl that he got pregnant was... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...remains important, and that it was only lucky that it didn’t end tragically this time. Eric joins her in refusing to pretend that everything is as it was before. Sheila articulates... (full context)