Who is Most Responsible for the Death of Eva Smith in An Inspector Calls
An Inspector Calls is what is known as a well constructed play. Its
progression is that of ignorance to knowledge. The characters are the
Birling family, Gerald Croft and of course the formidable Inspector
Goole. All the characters start off in a lulled sense of security.
Sheila begins very pleased with her life and with her fiancé Gerald
Croft, as one might who is getting married. Gerald is introduced as
the well-bred upper-class man about town. Eric, Sheila’s brother
starts off shy and progresses through the play, as does Sheila.
Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Birling are self-centred upper class adults who
look down on anyone below them, even their own children. The entrance
of the inspector shatters the whole family’s security and confidence
as he tells them a girl called Eva Smith has died in the Infirmary
after drinking disinfectant, consequently burning out her insides.
The cracks in the Birling family ship begin to show. All of this is
represented by the Titanic as people considered the boat to be
unsinkable and yet it proved them wrong and sunk, the Birling family
think themselves unsinkable and yet their boat eventually sinks too.
Arthur Birling is moved to anger by the Inspector’s confrontational
manner and accusation of sacking Eva Smith. Gerald, meanwhile, is in
agreement with Birling and says, “I know I would have done the same
thing.” Eric takes his father’s sacking of Eva personally and
replies, “It isn’t as if you cannot go and work somewhere else.” Mr
Birling sacked Eva because she went on strike with several other girls
to get twenty-five shillings a week instead of twenty-two and six.
Sheila is next to be examined by the Inspector. He shows her a
photograph of Eva Smith and Sheila recognises it as the girl she
sacked from Milwards, a department store. Sheila is moved to tears
after she found out she was partly responsible. The Inspector tells
Sheila that he knew of her sacking of Eva from a rough sort of diary
she had but we never have proof that this diary existed or that the
Inspector had used another source of information.
The Inspector then reveals that Eva changed her name to Daisy Renton.
This information seems to greatly disturb Gerald, who consequently
leaves the room with Sheila who says to him, “you fool don’t you see
he knows.” Gerald seems genuinely sorry that Eva is dead and he was
involved, in her death. Sheila is easily impressionable and from the
very beginning seems to be in complete awe of the Inspector and later
starts to become the Inspector’s junior, answering his questions and
telling off the others for their involvement with Eva’s suicide.
Sybil Birling slaughters the mournful atmosphere when she comes into
the scene with a cheerful, “Good evening Inspector”. Mrs Birling is
not unsociable but like her husband, looks down on anyone she deems
beneath her and will not be made to see the...