An Inspector Calls - Examining the Role of Sheila After the Inspector has Left
Examining the Role of Sheila After the Inspector has Left
An Inspector Calls is a play that was written by J.B. Priestley in
1945 and is set in 1912, focusing on a respectable upper class family;
the Birlings. 'Inspector Goole' interrupts a joyful engagement
celebration party between Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft, and the
Inspector announces the horrifying news that,
"Two hours ago a young woman died in the Infirmary. She'd been taken
there because she'd swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant."
The characters react in extremely different ways to this information
and Sheila emerges a very strong and conscientious character. We begin
to discover the hidden depths behind each character's outer appearance
as the play continues. We start to find out each family member's
involvement with Eva Smith's horrendous suicide as the Inspector
interrogates them, trying to make them feel guilty and responsible for
her tragic death. During the play, some characters show feelings of
guilt and remorse but others simply dismiss the death completely.
The play conveys a very strong message that we have the power to
change other people's lives and we should all care and look out for
each other. Throughout this essay I am going to be examining the role
of Sheila, subsequent to the Inspector's departure.
Sheila and Eric, the younger generation, have opinions that totally
contrast their mother and father's and they particularly get a chance
to show their feelings following the Inspector's visit. Mr Birling
gets very irate and angry and is exceptionally quick to blame his son,
Eric, for the whole incident and disruption. He complains,
"You're the one I blame for this,"
as if it were all Eric's fault and he himself did not have anything to
do with it whatsoever. Birling shows no signs of compassion for the
death of an innocent girl and says arrogantly,
"I care. I was almost certain for a knighthood in the next Honours
This is what Birling is thinking about after all that has happened,
therefore this reveals how selfish and self-centred he is. However,
Sheila's thoughts are completely the opposite of this and she
"I behaved badly too. I know I did. I'm ashamed of it. But now you're
beginning to pretend all over that nothing much has happened."
This reveals that Sheila has strong emotions and feelings and cares
that Eva Smith has died. She regrets the mistakes that she has made in
the past and is trying to learn from them. It shows that she feels
very guilty and responsible for the suicide and is a very sensitive
and caring character. She has learnt her lesson, but believes that her
parents are acting very irresponsibly and unintelligently. Later, she
says to her father,
"You don't seem to have learnt anything."
This is a very realistic statement, and the audience know...