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An inspector calls - An introduction

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An inspector calls The play "An Inspector calls" was written by J.B. Priestly in 1945. It was set in a Midland Industrial town in 1912. The plot of this dramatic play is based around a visit by an inspector to an apparently normal and well-respected family. All the characters are affected by the death of Eva Smith, but Sheila Birling shows the greatest remorse and changes the most. In this essay, I will discuss how Sheila changes during the play and her role in the death of Eva Smith. I am also going to briefly discuss about the other characters. In the play "An Inspector calls", each character reacts differently. Mr Birling, Sheila's father is arrogant and outspoken about his self-centred beliefs of the world "a man has to mind his own business and look after his own." He is less vocal as the inspector starts questioning them and appears somehow ashamed as the story develops. His involvement In Eva Smiths' case is that he sacked her from a job she needed dearly. The inspector mentions that this plays a part in her suicide. However at the end, when the inspector departs he returns to his old self, choosing to ignore the inspector's lesson. ...read more.


"These girls aren't cheap labour - they're people". As the story is revealed, Sheila immediately learns about Eva's unfair dismissal from Mr Birling's factory, she is critical of her father. Sheila is readier than the others to admit her guilt and express her regret to her actions. She makes minimal effort to excuse herself from her behaviour. Her reaction is very different from her father's. She denounces the act for what it was "I think it was cruel". She also admits she behaved badly and that she is "ashamed of it". She feels deep remorse while the inspector is there. After the inspector leaves she still remembers the story and still feels sorrow. She is concerned at the rate that her parents recover. She is amazed they haven't learned anything from it. Even though the inspector was a hoax, she still thinks they all behaved in an unsuitable manner. She learns to be responsible even to those less fortunate than her. Sheila has a very important role in the play. She represents Priestley's point of view. After the inspector leaves she states: "It doesn't make any real difference if he was a real inspector or not" because in her own opinion the inspector has fulfilled his purpose. ...read more.


As the play progresses the word "mummy" changes to "mother" after she realises all that has happened and different people's attitude to things. She also becomes much more inquisitive and evaluates each member of her family and their actions. She helps the investigation in many ways, to bring out the truth. She is willing to learn from her Mistakes and tries to encourage the others to learn as well. Sheila's changes reflect the political idea that we need to take responsibility towards others less fortunate. Priestly uses Sheila to encourage socialism and equality, he discourages capitalism. The fact that she questions the values and attitudes of her parents, reflect the changing attitudes of the younger generation and increase in women's independence. The only other person that shares her attitude is Eric. This shows that the younger generations are more open-minded and are able to learn from their mistakes and change. The older generation is being forced to learn appropriate values of life by the younger generation. Priestly uses Sheila and Eric to represent socialists who can bring hope to the future. To sum it all up, Sheila changes the most in "An Inspector Calls". She helps the inspector in bringing out and questioning different people's views of life. Priestly uses Sheila to express his views about capitalism. He uses Sheila to show the audience that there is room for change to bring about a better future for all. ...read more.

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  1. Inspector calls

    By saying this, Mrs Birling not only shifts the blame off her own shoulders, but puts it onto her son's. She cannot accept her own guilt because she is stubborn. She doesn't see the Inspector's power and tries to outsmart him.


    Also later on she warns the other members of the family: He's giving us the rope - so that we'll hang ourselves This shows us that she realises the games that the inspector is playing, and by the end is probably the cleverest out of the lot.

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