An Inspector Calls

Eva Smith Symbol Analysis

Eva Smith Symbol Icon
The symbol of Eva Smith is the character that the Inspector constructs by explaining that she has changed her name multiple times, was injured by each of the Birlings in turn, and consequently commits suicide. In fact, the Inspector seems to have created her as an amalgam of several women, each of them separately harmed by the different Birlings. As a combination of many working class women affected by the Birlings, Eva Smith represents the working class, the Labor side of the Labor vs. Capital agitations, who get squashed by the powerful upper class, such as the Birlings.

Eva Smith Quotes in An Inspector Calls

The An Inspector Calls quotes below all refer to the symbol of Eva Smith. 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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I can’t help thinking about this girl—destroying herself so horribly—and I’ve been so happy tonight.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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Inspector: There are a lot of young women living that sort of existence, Miss Birling, in every city and big town in this country.
Sheila: But these girls aren’t cheap labor. They’re people.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Inspector Goole (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2 Quotes

Miss Birling has just been made to understand what she did to this girl. She feels responsible. And if she leaves us now, and doesn’t hear any more, then she’ll feel she’s entirely to blame, she’ll be alone with her responsibility.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Sheila, Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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You’ve had children. You must have known what she was feeling. And you slammed the door in her face.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Mrs. Birling, Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3 Quotes

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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There are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), 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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Eva Smith Symbol Timeline in An Inspector Calls

The timeline below shows where the symbol Eva Smith appears in An Inspector Calls. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...any more, and reminds the family that each member is responsible for the death of Eva Smith . He tells them to never forget it. Mr. Birling offers the Inspector a bribe... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
The Inspector deduces a moral from the investigation—though Eva Smith has gone, there are millions and millions of Eva Smiths still alive, who have hopes... (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 after all. He asks the Birlings how they... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...what happened after he’d left. Mrs. Birling recounts that the Inspector accused her of seeing Eva Smith only two weeks previous, and that she had assented even though the girl hadn’t called... (full context)