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An Inspector Calls

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Explain how Sheila Birling's character changes in the play 'An Inspector Calls'. How does the audience know that Sheila has changed and learnt an important lesson? The play 'An Inspector Calls' is set in the evening in spring, 1912. The act takes place in the dining room of the Birling house, they are having a dinner party to celebrate Sheila Birling's engagement. Into this cosy scene intrudes the harsh figure of a police inspector investigating the suicide of a young working-class woman. Under the pressure of his interrogation, every member of the family turns out to have a shameful secret, which links them with her death. However, nearing the end of the play, there is a twist in the tale. Sheila is a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited about her engagement. They've just enjoyed a good dinner, and are celebrating a special occasion, her engagement to Gerald. When we first come across Sheila she seems to be very playful and fairly lively, "like one of these purple-faced old men." ...read more.


Ironically, once she finds out that Eva Smith has killed herself she is horrified by her own part in the story. She feels full of guilt for her jealous actions and blames herself as "really responsible." The stage directions further show her internal fury, "miserably, distressed." She feels as if the least she can do is be honest to herself and open up cleanly which would make her feel as if she did Eva Smith justice, "At least, I'm trying to tell the truth." She knows that she's done wrong but she shows a maturity to be honest and truthful about the whole incident. Now the audience know what Sheila did to Eva, they again question whether she is a decent person. However, she takes full responsibility and is deeply saddened by her actions. This strikes the audience and they can accept her actions now as a result of her honesty. They can see a good side to her, and a bit of a cruel side to her as well. There is also a bit of unsure about because her actions are very mixed and it baffles the audience as to whether they should like this character or not. ...read more.


To conclude, the audience can see that Sheila's attitude has changed as the play unfolds because she is aware that what she did was out of order on Eva Smith and she wants her family to feel some sort of guilt, "you don't seem to have learnt anything." She is angry at the way her family have pretended nothing has happened. Sheila personally has learnt that basically what she did was very, very wrong and that she has to become a better person from this mistake. "I behaved badly too. I know I did. I'm ashamed of it." As for Mr. And Mrs. Birling, they haven't really learnt anything and they don't really see this as a serious issue involving them. When Sheila tries to show her parents that they behaved badly, she is trying to show the audience that they must learn the message too. "We are not alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other." This quote sums up how Sheila has gone from a bit of a silly girl into a caring, wise and mature girl and how her attitude has transformed throughout the passage. It symbolises her maturity and the goodness inside of her. ...read more.

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