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Comparison Of The Attitudes Of Arthur Birling And Sheila Birling From An Inspector Calls By J.B. Priestley

1473 words - 6 pages

Comparison of The Attitudes Of Arthur Birling And Sheila Birling From An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley

An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestley was first performed in 1945. The
play was set in 1912 before the war; it centres on the wealthy Birling
family. A visit from the mysterious Inspector Goole, during the
celebration of Sheila Birling's and Gerald Croft's engagement, proves
to be a horrifying experience for them as they learn that they have
all played a part in the suicide of a young girl called Eva Smith.

From the start we see that Mr Birling is a hardheaded businessman and
seems to look out for only himself and his reputation. In his speech
to Gerald and Eric he tells them "a man has to make his own way-has to
look after himself -and his family, of course". Now this seems to show
his arrogance towards others. He is very proud and happy that his
daughter is marrying into a higher class and believes he will get more
respect.

Sheila Birling is presented at first as a childish playful girl. She
is not stupid and we know that she is very suspicious of Gerald's
absence last summer. When on hearing the news, of Eva Smiths death,
she is shocked. Through out the play Sheila seems aware of her
parent's ignorance and at one point she tries to stop her mother doing
some thing she will regret because she under stand s what the
inspector is doing

At the start during the dinner both of the characters are very happy
and are drinking and eating. They begin to have a conversation and Mr
Birling tells them that "just because the miners came out on strike,
there's a lot of wild talk about labour trouble in the near future."
And then he goes on to say that the war will not happen and that the
titanic will not sink. The irony in this is that we know he is wrong
even though he is saying that those who that there is going to be a
war are wrong. Priestly uses the dramatic irony of this to show how
misguided Birling is and what an irresponsible figure in society he
is. He then says that by 1940 there will be peace and prosperity and
rapid progress everywhere. Priestly was writing this play in 1934 he
knew and so did everyone else at the time that Mr Birling was wrong.
This shows us that what Birling was saying was a lie. It showed people
how ignorant Mr Birling was. This made you wonder if all of his
priorities were wrong.

When we are told the stories of how both characters were connected to
Eva Smith. We see although Sheila is caring she treated Eva smith no
better than her father did and that what they did to her was quite
similar. They both had her thrown out from her job. They both did it
for pathetic reasons. Neither of them thought about how the
consequences would affect Eva. Mr Birling threw Eva smith out of her
job at his Factory because she asked for a small pay rise of just
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