The play unfolds on the spring evening of 1912 in the northern part of the central counties of England, in the industrial town of Brumley, in the house of the Berliners. In a narrow family circle, the engagement of Sheila, the daughter of Arthur Beurling, a wealthy industrialist, is celebrated with Gerald Croft, the son of another rich industrialist. At the table, besides the persons mentioned, Sheila’s mother, Mrs. Sybil Burling, and Eric, Sheila’s brother, also sit. They all have high spirits, they drink, they talk. When Sheila and her mother go to another room to talk privately about clothes, Arthur gives “useful” advice to Gerald and Eric. He is sure that people should only deal with their personal affairs, take care of themselves and their loved ones, and not
First, Arthur Burling does not attach importance to this visit and thinks that he is related to his activities in court, where Arthur sits. But the inspector says that two hours ago a young woman died in the city hospital: she drank a large amount of some concentrated disinfectant solution and burned her entrails. The inspector asserts that this is a suicide and that in connection with this incident he needs to ask a few questions. Arthur Berling is surprised by the inspector’s visit, he does not understand how this story can affect him personally. The inspector explains that this girl, Eva Smith, once worked at the factory in Berlin, and shows her picture. Then Arthur Burling recalls that she really worked for him two years ago, but was fired, since she incited to strike. But Arthur still does not understand, what can be the connection between this long history and the death of a girl. Sheila enters the room. Father tries to get his daughter out, but the inspector asks her to stay. It turns out that he wants to ask questions not only to the Berliner-father, but to all the rest. The inspector tells that Eva Smith, after Burling fired her, for two months was unemployed and almost died
Next, the inspector reports that after Eva Smith was forced to leave the studio, she decided to try her luck in yet another profession and began by changing her name to Daisy Renton. When the inspector pronounced that name, Gerald gave his reaction. It became clear to everyone that he was intimately acquainted with her. Gerald said that he saw her for the first time somewhere about a year ago in the music hall “Palace.” This bar is a favorite refuge of girls of special behavior, Gerald noticed a girl there who was very different from the others, and it was clear that she did not have a place in this bar. Meanwhile, the senior adviser to the municipality of Meggati, an outspoken donjuan, and perhaps the biggest rogue and drunkard in the whole of Brumley, rudely began to molest her. The girl threw a glance at Gerald, in which there was a desperate plea for help. The young man helped her get rid of Meggati, and then took her away from there. Then they went to another quiet place, where they drank a glass of port wine. There during the conversation Gerald realized that she had absolutely no money and that she was hungry. He ordered her food. Two days later they met again, but this time it was no accident. Gerald persuaded the girl to move into his friend’s empty apartment. He gave her also some money. Their love affair did not last long. They broke up completely before Gerald left for another city. But he insisted that she take in the form of a farewell gift a small amount, which could live until the end of the year. The inspector added that after the break with Gerald, the girl left for two months in some seaside resort town to be alone, in silence. All these memories, as well as the news of the death of the former mistress, had a strong effect on Gerald, and with the permission of the inspector he left to wander around the city for a while. Before he leaves, Sheila gives him the wedding ring, which he gave her the day before.
Then the inspector turns to Mrs. Burling and asks her to look at the girl’s photo. Mrs. Burling says she has never seen her before. However, the inspector claims that it is not true that two weeks ago they were talking when Eva Smith applied to the Women’s Charitable Community of Brumley, of which Mrs. Burling is a member. It turns out that the inspector is right. At first the girl introduced herself as Mrs. Burling. This immediately set Sybil against her. And the girl was denied help, as Mrs. Burling, the most influential member of society, insisted on doing so. When the inspector announced that Eva was pregnant, Sheila, stunned, told her mother that she had acted cruelly and disgustingly. Eva knew that she would never be able to marry the father of a child, because he was still very young, but he was also stupid, disbanded and excessively inclined to alcohol. He gave Eve money, but once, upon learning that he had stolen them, she stopped taking them. That’s why she turned to a charity. Mrs. Burling said she blames the young man from whom Eva was expecting a child, and reminded the inspector that his direct duty was to punish this young man on merit and force him to publicly acknowledge his guilt.
Then Erik enters the room. He immediately realizes that the queue has reached him. He has to admit that he met Eva on the November evening in the bar of the “Palace.” The same evening, at his insistence, they went to her house and were close. Then they happened to meet two weeks later in the same bar, and again Eric went to her. Soon she told him that she was pregnant. She did not want to marry. And Eric began to give her money. The father and the inspector ask Eric where he took this money, and it turns out that he stole them in his father’s office. The inspector, after listening to all this, said that the girl was dying an excruciating death and that each of those present pushed her to this suicide. The inspector leaves. Returns Gerald. He begins to doubt that this was a real inspector. Then Arthur calls the familiar colonel from the police and finds out, that no inspector Gul is working there. Gerald calls the hospital and finds out that there is also no, and there was no pregnant woman who committed suicide. The participants of the event start to think that this whole story is someone’s strange joke. Gradually recovering from the shock, those present are already having fun remembering the details of the conversation and making fun of each other. And then the phone rings. Burling approaches the phone. They call from the police and say that a girl has just died on the way to the city hospital from poisoning with some kind of disinfectant and that a police inspector has left for Berlin to ask a few questions. that this whole story is someone’s strange joke. Gradually recovering from the shock, those present are already having fun remembering the details of the conversation and making fun of each other. And then the phone rings. Burling approaches the phone. They call from the police and say that a girl has just died on the way to the city hospital from poisoning with some kind of disinfectant and that a police inspector has left for Berlin to ask a few questions. that this whole story is someone’s strange joke. Gradually recovering from the shock, those present are already having fun remembering the details of the conversation and making fun of each other. And then the phone rings. Burling approaches the phone. They call from the police and say that a girl has just died on the way to the city hospital from poisoning with some kind of disinfectant and that a police inspector has left for Berlin to ask a few questions.