• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

-'An Inspector Calls' by J B Priestley Who or what is to blame for the death of Eva Smith?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

GCSE English Literature -'An Inspector Calls' by J B Priestley Who or what is to blame for the death of Eva Smith? Blame and responsibility are key themes in the play an inspector calls. Priestley set the play in 1912, but he wrote it in 1944. During that space of time many big social changes took place. After reading the play we come to realise each character has contributed to the death of Eva Smith, but is anyone solely to blame? The play shows the younger generation of 1912 starting to understand their responsibility to society. Sheila is a fine example of this. Sheila the Birlings' daughter is impressionable, and deeply affected by the Inspector's revelations. She and her brother Eric are the only characters who give any cause for optimism in the play. Sheila has an attractive and essentially honest character, and lacks in the cold-blooded attitude of her parents. Sheila first set eyes on Eva when Eva was working in a shop called Millwards. The previous months before, Eva had been unemployed after being sacked by Mr Birling. Sheila was jealous of Eva's pretty looks and Sheila, as a customer complained about her. Eva was sacked. ...read more.

Middle

And I am 'nothing whatever to do with that wretched girl suicide.' He shows no remorse. Birling is proud of his status; he and his wife set great store by his public offices and privileges. So sensitive is Birling about such matters that he feels a little uneasy about Gerald Croft marrying his daughter, sensing that Gerald's parents may feel that their son is marrying 'beneath himself'. At the end of the play the possibility that he may be deprived of his knighthood upsets him far more than anything else does. Mr and Mrs Birling see themselves as upholders of all the 'right' values and of the guardians of proper conduct. But both are exposed as self-centred and essentially heartless. They begin to try and put the Inspector in his place, through emphasising their own position in society. Both try to hide, or hide from the uncomfortable truths. As Eric points out his father is useless in a real crisis. It is plain that Birling's motives are not to save Eric from being found out, but to protect himself from social scandal. To do this, he is prepared to he is prepared to distort or ignore the truth. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Inspector is an enigment figure. He neither changes nor develops but frequently repeats: 'I haven't much time. Inspector Goole's name is obviously a pun on 'ghoul', a spirit or ghost. The stage directions talk of 'an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness'. There is an air of menace about him and, unlike all the other characters; he does not deviate from his moral position. Sometimes the Inspector behaves as the voice of social conscience: 'You see, if there's nothing else, we'll have to share our guilt.' He points out that social responsibilities have become greater as privileges increase. Significantly, the Inspector himself neither forgives nor punishes. Each character is made to face up to the fact that they must find the courage to judge themselves: only then will they have learnt enough to be able to change. The play points out the need for a sense of personal responsibility in every member of society. Responsibility not only for individual actions, but also for the way actions affect others. Different characters react to their guilt in different ways, when it is revealed to them. Not all show remorse or shame, and some are so hardened that they refuse to accept that remorse is appropriate. I can therefore conclude that society is to blame. In 1912 people did not care enough about one another. 1 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE J.B. Priestley essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The apportioning of blame and responsibility are central themes in 'An Inspector Calls'. Each ...

    4 star(s)

    Unknown to Eva/Daisy that the head woman that she was talking to was, Eric's mother. Mrs Birling takes this the wrong way and is immediately turned bias against Eva/Daisy.

  2. Inspector Calls-How Sheila Birling Changes And Develops Through The Play

    Throughout the play Sheila Birling changed and developed. In Act One she was materialistic and could not stand up for herself, however in Act Two and Three she sees a different light and realises that she was a bad Capitalist and needed to change for the better.

  1. An Inspector Calls - Who is responsible for the death of Eva Smith?

    If Gerald had not been disloyal to Sheila then would not have been a relationship with Eva to break off and she would not have been upset by it. However, I do not think Gerald played a very destructive role in the life of Eva Smith as he did make her happy for a short while at least.

  2. Who is most responsible for the death of Eva Smith?

    Just like Sheila, Eric feels very guilty and feels remorse for Eva. Although he is very young still immature he will certainly learn from his mistakes. When he discovers that his mother had turned Eva away, his guilt and remorse turn to anger, "You killed her.

  1. Who is to blame for Eva Smith's death in

    In March 1911, Eva Smith became Gerald Croft's mistress and he had a similar outlook on her suicide as Mr Birling. He comes from a very rich family and comes across as being rather spoilt. However, he does come across as being slightly calm and confident, but he was the first person to think of a way out.

  2. An Inspector calls - blame for the death of Eva Smith.

    On hearing the news of Eva Smith's death, Birling is at first dismissive of what has happened, saying that he does not see what the events have to do with him. When asked why he dismissed Eva Smith for asking for a relatively modest wage increase, Birling tries to defend himself by citing financial reasons.

  1. Who is responsible for the death of Eva Smith? Pay close attention in your ...

    When the Inspector leaves, Sheila is traumatised. She is fully aware of the responsibilities of the people around her and herself and will become a better person because of it. She has taken responsibility of her actions and understands that a lesson has to be learnt from the Inspectors visit, prank or not.

  2. Who (or what) do you think is to blame for the death of Eva ...

    with Eva Smith, "I don't see we need to tell the Inspector anything more. In fact, there's nothing I can tell him." Unlike at the beginning, we now see Mr Birling losing his patients with the Inspector and he believes that he can keep silent and that the Inspector has

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work