In An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley, does Eric Birling actually rape Eva Smith? Does "force" indicate rape, and did he "force" himself into the apartment or onto her?

If he did rape her - why does she stay with him?

I'm not sure if he raped her, or simply forced his way into the apartment and she willingly slept with him (but if she was unwilling to let him into the apartment, why would she be willing to sleep with him?).

  • 4
    If he did rape her - why does she stay with him? The same reasons why people stay in abusive relationships all the time. See, for example, loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/why-do-people-stay (technically it's a resource for teen dating violence, but everything it says is applicable).
    – user111
    May 23, 2017 at 17:34

2 Answers 2


It is highly likely that the "force" meant Eric raped Eva. The Inspector says to Eric that he "just used her for the end of one of his drunken evenings".

Eric also admitted that Eva was also slightly drunk because she had nothing to eat meaning maybe she wasn't conscious enough to make up her mind.

However it is hinted that Eva was a prostitute as the place she was most commonly found in was the Palace Bar home to the "women of the town" (Prostitutes). When Eva was pregnant she couldn't tell Mrs Birling that she was raped by Eric because at the time people wouldn't take the thought of a prostitute being raped seriously.

This is why Eva couldn't possibly stop Eric coming into her apartment or why she would still see him after the the events that took place simply because of her role in society, this is one of the major reasons Eva commits suicide as she was constantly treated as garbage by others due to her "class" and exploited for her "pretty" looks.


The "force" indicates rape. Eric admits elsewhere in the play that Eva let him in to her rooms, albeit unwillingly.

INSPECTOR: You went with her to her lodgings that night?

ERIC: Yes, I insisted - it seems. I'm not very clear about it, but afterwards she told me she didn't want me to go in, but that - well, I was in that state when one easily turns nasty - and I threatened to make a row.

INSPECTOR: So she let you in?

ERIC: Yes. And that's when it happened. And I didn't even remember - that's the hellish part. Oh - my God! How stupid it all is!

Priestley wants to highlight the hypocrisy of the Birlings. It suits the themes of the play to make Eric as monstrous as possible.

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