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

Discuss J.B Priestley's Presentation of the Characters of Sheila Birling and Eva Smith in the Relation to the Social, Historical and Cultural Background of the play

Extracts from this document...


English Coursework 'Discuss J.B Priestley's Presentation of the Characters of Sheila Birling and Eva Smith in the Relation to the Social, Historical and Cultural Background of the play. In 1912, British society was very different to that of the one we live in now. Like lives of those people who were anything below middle class were poverty and disease stricken. 'An Inspector Calls' by J.B Priestley highlights the distinctive divide between the classes. Those that were rich and those that were poor. Those that had family status and those that had none. The living conditions of people during this time, when the play is set, were extremely poor with very little proper sanitation and cramped living spaces. People without any position in the social hierarchy would live in these types of places, where as those who were middle class, rich, families would live in spacious houses with all the latest necessities and would most probably have servants and maids. Eva Smith is a perfect example of someone who had to work to make her life worthwhile. From working in factories to shop work, Eva was always working to get even the littlest essential in life. For those higher up in the social hierarchy work for women was not an option, their lives consisted of social gatherings, shopping and skills such as reading and piano like Mrs and Shelia Birling. ...read more.


Eva, who is working at the time, watches as Sheila tries on the dress. When Sheila sees Eva smiling she is even more aggravated, and insists 'she be sacked or I'll tell mother to cancel our account here'. Milwards have no choice but to sack her. Sheila, at the time felt no remorse for what she had done 'she was very pretty and looked as if she could take care of herself. I couldn't be sorry for her.' This came as a big shock to Eva who felt that she was doing really well at Milwards. In her devastation, Eva tried to forget her old life and renamed herself Daisy Renton. Gerald admits that he too had known Daisy Renton. He had met her at the local Variety Theatre - known to be the haunt of prostitutes - and had 'rescued' her from the unwelcome attentions of Alderman Meggarty, a local dignitary. When he found out that Daisy was almost penniless, Gerald let her stay in the flat of a friend of his and she became his mistress. He ended the affair when he had to go away on business, giving her some money to see her through for a few months. Once again, Eva's life seemed to be going from bad to worse. ...read more.


However, his final speech is aimed not only at the characters on stage, but at the audience too: "One Eva Smith has gone - but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, and what we think and say and do." The Inspector is talking about a collective responsibility, everyone is society is linked, in the same way that the characters are linked to Eva Smith. Everyone is a part of "one body"; the Inspector sees society as more important than individual interests. The views he is propounding are like those of Priestley who was a socialist. He adds a clear warning about what could happen if, like some members of the family, we ignore our responsibility: "And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, when they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." This play carries a powerful message to society and this message continues still to this day and will most likely still be applicable for years to come. The message is telling us that we are not only responsible for ourselves, but for everyone around us and that our actions do not only affect us but everyone around us. Everyone else is 'all intertwined with our lives and what we think and say and do.' ...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. To what extent do you feel that the Characters are changed by the Inspector's ...

    She also swears that she will "never, never do it [behaving like that towards others] again to anybodyo. This is a turning point in the play for Sheila. Almost at once she sheds her image of being a naive and ignorant young lady and takes on the most profound understanding of the Inspector's message.

  2. Compare and contrast the characters of Sheila Birling and Eva Smith in J.B. Priestley's ...

    This means that both Sheila and Eva had loved Gerald but that neither of those relationships lasted. Another important theme in the play is time. At the end of the play we are left with the feeling that everything is going to happen again.

  1. In this assignment I'll discuss the social and the historical context of the J. ...

    with life, she is young, beautiful and recently engaged, but things soon turn around when the Inspector arrives. Inspector Goole explains to the family the tragedy of Eva's death and Sheila, the only decent family member, is sincerely upset, this is in contrast to her father who didn't see it any of their business.

  2. Eva Smith \ Daisy Renton.

    I really didn't want to tell him everything so I kept everything vague. Now after I changed my name (I changed it so that Gerald didn't know my real name) I really do not want to be Eva Smith anymore.

  1. In Sheila and Mr Birling, Priestley has created two characters whose views on social ...

    It does not occur to him that people might value other things more highly. These predictions show his ignorance. We know that all his predictions were incorrect as the play was written in 1945.The Titanic had sunk, war had happened and the American stock market crashed in 1929. (Dramatic irony)

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

    What does Mr. Birling care that Eva has died, and that, as pointed out by the Inspector, neither he nor his wife, son, daughter or her fianc� can ever even say "I'm sorry, Eva Smith"? It seems Arthur Birling's pompous and selfish attitude is stronger than his feelings of guilt.

  1. In what ways does the play 'An Inspector Calls' reflect the cultural, social and ...

    During this time 87% of the countries wealth was owned by 5% of the population. This meant that 8 million poor people were earning and living on less than 25 shillings a week. Eva Smith represented these people in the play.

  2. Examine the Ways in Which the Birling Family and Gerald Use Their Social Status ...

    undermined by members of a lower class for which he was providing a stable job. Being the first to abuse his power, Mr Birling uses it to set an example for the rest of his workers. The message he sends out by this action, is that anyone who even dares

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