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Assess the dramatic effect of Eva Smith in relation to two of the characters in

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Assess the dramatic effect of Eva Smith in relation to two of the characters in "An Inspector Calls". We are halfway through Act Three of "An Inspector Calls" by J.B. Priestley. The Inspector has, just as eerily and spookily as he arrived, exited the home of the Birling family. His provocation of the revelations that have been forced out by all members of the family including Sheila's husband-to-be Gerald, has left them bewildered and as very different people to the happy family group they were a few hours previously. In this play, the Inspector has very prominently acted as the representative for Eva Smith, who has apparently died tragically this night. We are given a few details about this girl - she was country-born and was blessed with "soft brown hair and dark brown eyes" and a pretty appearance. Taking into account the fact that Eva is a young woman to whom we have never spoken and who does not physically enter this play at all - she is but a diary, a photograph and a story - how exactly has she managed to affect these five lives so colossally? I will focus on the reactions of and the effect upon Arthur and Sheila Birling - father and daughter. ...read more.


Sheila's mother and the sales assistant, Miss Francis, had both advised Sheila that to try the dress on would be a mistake, but she had insisted. After having tried the dress on, Sheila knew immediately that the two had been right all along, and that the dress did not flatter her at all. Sheila described how "this girl" [Eva] had "brought the dress up from the workroom, and when the assistant - Miss Francis - had asked her something about it, to show us what she meant, she had helped the dress up, as if she was wearing it". Sheila said it "just suited her" and that she was jealous of her figure and her "dark eyes". Then, when Sheila was looking at herself in the dress, she caught sight of Eva smiling at Miss Francis. Becoming furious and taking the smile the wrong way, Sheila promptly demanded to see the manager and insisted that, unless they fired Eva, she would boycott the store forever. Sheila "used her power as the daughter of a respected customer" to make life difficult and miserable for Eva. This, we are told by the Inspector, was Eva's final steady job - she was never employed again. ...read more.


Her brother Eric's life had become intertwined with Eva's when he was intoxicated at the Palace Variety Bar, and "picked her up". Eric is a character whose life seems to have become very difficult and complicated - it may have taken someone like Eva to make him change his ways and think about his disregard for everything rational and caring. The audience hopes, however, that the person upon whom Eva Smith has had the most dramatic effect is Arthur Birling. It is rather saddening to watch the family having had such an experience, almost a blessing, with a prophet such as Inspector Goole and his interrogation. This is because he has taught Arthur, Sybil, Sheila, Eric and Gerald a very valuable lesson, which half of the family has apparently taken no note of whatsoever. It is apparent that Eva Smith, Daisy Renton or whoever it was coming into contact with the Birling family over the said period of time may not exist, but this has not stopped her from having an extremely consequential effect on five people. Priestley has, fully intentionally of course, left us wondering if the Birlings will think about their effect upon people around them - or whether they will have to be taught their lesson of concern for those of lower social standing in fire, blood and anguish. 1 1 ...read more.

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