How do they respond to the Inspector’s revelations and who is most responsible for the death of Eva Smith
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 fiance 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 that lower class are also people and not just rubbish that use up space.
Sheila takes a big part in the Inspector’s examination of her mother. From the beginning she tries to warn her mother to be wary of the Inspector with words such as, “You mustn’t try to build up a wall between you and the Inspector. If you do, he will just break it down or it will be all the worse for you. ” Her mother’s cold heartedness makes her stick her nose up at this warning and snubs her daughter by asking the Inspector if that comment makes sense. He, of course replies that it does. This enrages Mrs Birling who calls him “impertinent”.
Mrs Birling then resorts to referring to her husband and asking the Inspector of his knowledge of the towns previous lord mayors, as Mr Birling was one of them and is still a magistrate. The next revelation comes from Sheila as she reveals that Eric is an alcoholic and has been drinking far too much recently. This is one of Sheila’s first accomplishments as the Inspector’s junior. Gerald now has no choice but to confess. He tries to get rid of Sheila by asking the Inspector if “she shouldn’t be excused? ” The Inspector at first agrees with Gerald then sides with Sheila that she has the right to stay in the room for Gerald’s testimony.
Gerald then starts telling the story of how he met Eva or, as he knew her, Daisy, at the Stalls Bar at the Palace Music Hall in Bromley. He saw her being sat down when she obviously did not want to, with a notorious womaniser, Joe Meggarty. He went over to Joe and told him that the manger had a message for him. After Daisy had thanked him he asked her if she wanted to leave the bar, to which she answered that she did. Gerald found her lodgings and supplied her with money and food.
At this point in his story he is interrupted with a stampede of questions from the Inspector, the most important of which is, “Did you love her? Gerald replies, “I did for a time. ” Mrs Birling interrupts again but her voice is no longer friendly, it is frosty and distinctly brusque. She complains about the affair being told to the Inspector with the excuse that it is “disgusting. ” The real reason is that she does not want a scandal and the thought of the potential newspaper headlines is making her blood curdle. The investigation of Gerald ends when he says he has not seen Daisy since the first week of September. In my opinion of all the family, Gerald did the least harm to Daisy.
He was the only one who made her happy and though his prejudices and ideas are like all the Birling family, he also has the heart of the younger generation, and did keep care for Daisy until the end of their affair. Gerald then asks to be excused and is just about to leave when Sheila gives him the engagement ring back with the words, “You and I are not the same people who sat down to dinner here tonight, we need to start all over again. ” Mrs Birling has a look at the picture of Daisy/Eva next and because of her foolish pride and illogical morals pretends not to recognise the picture.
It is Sheila who first realises she is lying. Sheila is the one who hands her over to the Inspector and this is her second major accomplishment as the Inspector’s junior. In my opinion Sheila has every reason to do what she is undertaking but is going over the top by doing a job for which she is not qualified. Mrs Birling admits that a girl identical to the one in the photo did come to her Brumley Women’s Charity Organisation but not under the name of Daisy or Eva but under the name of Mrs Birling.
Mrs Birling’s Charity give small donations of money to women especially impecunious though when Mrs Birling heard Eva say her own name she was immediately biased against the case and convinced her fellow charity workers to be too. Eva told the committee she was a few months pregnant and the father had deserted her. This is just chauvinism on Mrs Birling’s part and she did not even wait to hear her out to before making the decision on whether to give her financial help. After this has been revealed to the Inspector, Mrs Birling did not want to appear in the wrong, so starts to blame it all on the father of the baby.
The entire time the Inspector has been giving hints that the father of the baby is Eric but dense Mrs Birling blunders her way through her speech until the Inspector says, “So the father was silly, wild and drinking too much. ” When it dawns on Sheila her brother has not yet been accused of a crime and the portrayal of the father perfectly fits the description of Eric. Sheila tries to stop her mother before it is too late but Mrs Birling is too far along for that and just sticks her nose up at her daughter and says, “The father of the child ought to be made an example of.
Then it dawns on her that her beloved Eric just might be the father. Eric comes in and everybody stares at him in awe, amazement and frustration. His only words are, “You know don’t you? ” Mrs Birling starts protesting saying “It can not be you Eric. ” Sheila reveals to Eric the history of what has gone on since he has been gone, including the revelation of him being an alcoholic and his mother’s words about making the father been made an example of. Mrs Birling takes back these comments with words of “I didn’t know it was you though”. This was not the entrance that Eric Birling wanted.
Eric begins telling his fear-provoking story of how he met Eva in the Palace Bar (the same Bar where Gerald met her) and followed her home and forced her let him in. Consequently Eric made Eva pregnant. Eric finding himself in the position of expectant father went to his father’s office and stole a total of fifty pounds! On a day when he was extremely drunk he let slip the money he was giving Eva was stolen. This is when Mrs Birling comes in and the truth of how cold hearted her deed was. When the Inspector leaves he gives a speech about how there are, “millions of Eva and John Smiths”.
J. B. Priestley chose these names because they are common, every day names and people like the Birlings misuse people such as Eva and take advantage of them. He also says that, “If people do not learn that lesson they will learn it in fire blood and anguish. ” This basically says that if people do not treat each other like equals then there will be a civil or even world war. The last scene in the play is when Gerald comes back in and we find out that the Inspector was all a hoax. My opinion on this revelation is that the Inspector was not a hoax but a spirit.
To support this idea, the pun on his name ‘Goole’ is pronounced exactly the same as ghoul as in ghost of the family and had a photo for another. Then in the very end the Birlings get a phone call from the infirmary saying a girl has died from drinking disinfectant and a police inspector is on their way to talk to them. I find Sheila the most responsible in that her deed was inexcusable. There was no reason or even defence for what she did to Eva. Eva trusted Sheila and looked upon her as a friend. The look Eva gave Sheila could have meant anything; she could have just been smiling because she was pleased she had a secure job.
I find Gerald easier to justify, as he was good to her and made her happy for the short time he was with her. Eric, who used the feeble excuse that he was drunk, but his behaviour and actions were as bad as the actions of Sheila. Mr and Mrs Birling also come under severe criticism with their cold hearted attempts to sabotage Eva’s life. Even though they both had their own reasons it was still an atrocious thing to do. Eric and Sheila, characters representing the younger generation learnt from this tragic episode and finally realised that their actions do have consequences, and progressed and matured by the end of the play.
In my opinion, Gerald also learnt to be more humble and considerate, and clearly demonstrates his sorrow at the tragic death of Eva – he is also a member of the younger generation of the Birling family, although obviously one episode is not going to wipe out years of indoctrination by the Birling family! Mr and Mrs Birling do not change at all and have obviously learnt nothing from the death of Eva. They are the same cold-hearted people as previously. The Birlings and Gerald Croft are examples of the unscrupulous people in the world who exist the. Play highlights that you never know who is aware of your wrong doings and actions.
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