How does priestly present Sheila in An inspector calls
An Inspector calls is a play set in 1912 Edwardian England, in this time period there was a large social divide between upper class and lower class. “An inspector calls” is about a Higher classed family having a strong connection with a young women who has commit suicide, with a suspicious inspector uncovering the plot throughout the play.
All the way through the play the writer Priestly shows the characters on a personal journey he shows how they change from stuck up un-caring upper class members of society to understanding, guilt ridden human beings. In this essay I hope to show this through the character Sheila’s journey and her part in the play by covering her original state in act one to her rejuvenated state in act three.
At the start of the play we have the whole Birling family sat round the table and Gerald the fiancу f Sheila, having a conversation. In the opening to the play the audience would see what Sheila looks like , and if its anything like priestly describes in the book “Sheila is a pretty girl In her early twenties very please with life and rather exited” this makes the audience see Sheila as an innocent girl a some what average happy and nice girl that the audience wouldn’t mind being friends with but then she speaks ” I should jolly well think not Gerald, I’d hate to know all about port like one of those purple faced old men! this shows Sheila’s true character (a some what spoilt girl with quite a foul vocabulary” we continue to get a bad view of Sheila and she shows to be just like her stuck up ,rude upper class mother.
As the first act continues but we also see the characteristics of a love struck young women in Sheila’s character when Gerald shows her a ring “oh its wonderful Gerald, look mummy isn’t it a beauty (she kisses Gerald hastily)” page 5. But even though love struck feature is a nice characteristic we are still left thinking that Sheila isn’t the person we’d love to love as she is still posh, spoilt, and foul mouthed and the list goes on. As the inspector questions Mr. Birling on his encounter with the girl who committed suicide (Eva Smith / Daisy Renton) Sheila is not much involved but when she returns to the conversation “what business what’s going on? ” we see the start of her interrogation.
As she tells her story we gain even more ill feeling towards Sheila as she tells the inspector how she came to meet Eva smith the clothing shop Milwards “When I was looking at myself in the mirror I caught a sight of her smirking at the assistant and I was furious with her” this brings Sheila’s character to a climax as we see a purely evil young woman with no care for anyone, this climax is finished with Sheila telling the inspector that she got Eva Smith fired for the smirk.
Although the thought of what she had done makes the audience dislike her considerably we start to see a new Sheila arise as she tells her story, mainly a guilty emotion to start with but it’s just a start of a dramatic change. We continue the story by seeing Gerald, Sheila’s fiancу dmitting to an affair with Daisy Renton /Eva Smith,Sheila’s character seems to have made a turn because instead of being outraged and never forgiving Gerald she takes a more understanding view and appreciates Gerald Telling the truth towards the end of her conversation “Gerald I don’t dislike you as I did half an hour ago in fact, in a rather odd way, I rather respect you more than ever” (p 40).
For the next act Sheila’s character is mostly absent and is not aware of the stories told by Mrs. Birling and her brother Eric but she returns in the final Act as the family all return except Gerald to discuss who is most responsible, they all discuss what they did with Sheila almost trying to prove she was the person most in the wrong “I know I had her turned out of her job I started it”(p56) but she doesn’t do this out of love of hurt against someone, she does this because she is guilt ridden and she desperately wants to get the punishment for what she has done and priestly shows that.
Then Mr B seems to do the same “look inspector id give thousands yes thousands” said Mr. B just before the inspector leaves (p57). finally the inspector comes to his last words of the night and some would say the message of the play is explained within this quote “one Eva smith has gone – but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us… all intertwined with our lives. We don’t live alone.
We are members of one body. we are responsible for each other… f men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire blood and anguish”(p56) that quote is so effective because its talking about the war in the last few words the war that had not happened in the plays set time period but in the real time period that it had been written it had already happen making the message very appealing to the audience who would of just lived through the war (dramatic irony). Then we come to the inspector leaving this is a key part in the play were when he leave we see which characters were pretending and witch ones actually had changed due to the Inspectors visit.
Then as soon as he leaves we get a straight look at who was pretending and who had changed. With the older more respected members saying “how dare he speak to me like that” (Mrs B) this gave the impression Priestly had made sure the younger members of the family learnt the lesson . But when Gerald returns to tell that he wasn’t a real Police inspector all characters on stage are rattled and confused but still the changed emotions of Eric and Sheila are convinced he was real or if they didn’t think he was real what he said was real and genuine.
This girl is still dead isn’t she” claims Eric whose story came to tell about his relationship and love for Eva Smith/Daisy Renton. “You began to learn something. And now you’ve stopped your ready to go back to your old way” (Sheila page 71) this is an important quote as its telling exactly what’s going on and shows that Sheila has changed “Because I remember what he said, how he looked and what he made me feel” Sheila again trying to push her own beliefs that she would of never brought to the surface until the inspector had came.
But still the views of the parents were still solid unchanged “now look at them the famous younger generation they think they know it all” showing that still the generation before think they have a higher intellect and perfect view on life. Then we have the final cliff edge of the story (so to speak) when they get the phone call telling them that a girl has been found dead “committed suicide” and there will be an inspector coming to see them shortly.
This is all a total shock to the characters and they end the play giving the audience the question of what will happen when the real inspector comes. So therefore priestly has shown Sheila as a child figure the person who learns lessons through experience like a child would if he touched something hot, he wouldn’t touch it again. But I personally learning the lesson isn’t the message in this play the message is again only explained by the doctors quote that I explained earlier in the essay that seems with only Sheila and Eric understood.
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