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Character Of Sheila Birling In 'An Inspector Calls'.

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Introduction

Character Of Sheila Birling In 'An Inspector Calls' Sheila Birling is the upper-middle class daughter of Arthur Birling, the successful businessman. Her character significantly changes and develops throughout the course of the play and it is these changes, as well as her overall character that I shall be looking at. We are first introduced to Sheila during the conversation at the dinner table in the Birling mansion. She is extremely happy and full of zest for life. After all, she is in the middle of celebrating her engagement to a well-respected gentleman with whom she is madly in love. This is one of the highest points of her life. Her first interesting statement is, 'yes - except for all last summer, when you never came near me'. She is talking about Gerald's attempts to become 'one of the family'. After which Gerald makes the excuse of 'I was awfully busy at the works at that time'. She replies, 'yes, that's what you say'. Clearly she does not fully believe his story, as this statement is said in a somewhat sarcastic tone of voice which has emphasis on the, 'you'. However, we later learn that it is during this period when Gerald is having an affair with Eva Smith. Thus we can see that Sheila is relatively sharp, at least where her husband-to-be is concerned. ...read more.

Middle

She is easily upset and runs out of the room. Although Sheila is genuinely upset about her actions, her selfishness is not completely squashed, because is also annoyed that she will never be able to return to Milwards, 'I feel now I can never go there again'. We know that Sheila is a fairly bright girl, as she is the first person of all the family to realise that the inspector knows everything that he is asking them about. He just wants to make them admit it themselves. Sheila herself admits to the complaint she made in Milwards and tells the audience exactly why she complained; it was not because she herself looked so awful in the dress, but more because the assistant, Eva Smith, looked so beautiful in it. Sheila is evidently a very jealous girls and she admits this to everyone. In fact this is one of Sheila's most interesting characteristics. She is very quick to judge herself and to admit to everything. Sheila and Eric are the only two of the five who take complete responsibility for their actions, Sheila especially. When she says, 'so I'm really responsible' and 'it was my own fault', she is miserable and is attacking herself. This is something that Sheila does continually throughout the course of the play. In fact this is where Sheila's character changes, she is beginning to grow up and mature. ...read more.

Conclusion

At the beginning Sheila is a spoilt, immature girl who is completely na�ve about the 'real' world and reality. During the inspector's interrogation however she develops into a very different character. She quickly learns about the inspector's inquisitive technique although none of her family can see it. She becomes more like an adult as she begins to, and in the end does, take full responsibility for her actions. Her sensitiveness increases and so does her humanity. All of the guilt she is feeling helps her to learn from her actions and thus her moral integrity grows considerably during the play. This means that she has learnt to respect all people, whether they're upper class or working class. The emotions that Sheila expresses during the play, and especially towards the end, are the emotions and feelings that the others should be expressing, i.e. sorrow, guilt and responsibility. She is acting as the role model, like the parents should be. In conclusion, I think it is fair to say that Sheila is the nicest of all the characters. After all, she is the one who learns a lesson and takes something away from the experience. None of the others, apart from Eric, learn anything from their experience. Also Sheila changes so much during the play that her personality is completely different at the end to what it was at the beginning. She develops significantly and this is what makes Sheila such a diverse and interesting character. Michael Thompson - 10/05/07 1 ...read more.

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