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Examine the role of Eva in ‘An Inspector Calls’

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An Inspector Calls - Year 10 English Literature. Coursework. Examine the role of Eva in 'An Inspector Calls' It is important to understand the setting of J.B. Priestley's play in order to comprehend Eva's role. It focuses upon the fictional, industrial town of Brumley in 1912 and reflects the social conditions of the time. Eva was a young girl in her twenties, apparently very attractive, but also very poor. Her lifestyle is completely different to the rich, upper-class and somewhat pompous Birlings. Other than that we have little obvious information about Eva Smith. Much information about both Eva and the Inspector is unknown and the details are left for the imagination. It becomes clear that all the main characters in the play came in contact with an attractive woman. Eric & Gerald were intimately involved with her, enough to make Sheila jealous of her good looks. The first thing we hear about Eva Smith is that she is dead. "Two hours ago a young woman died in the infirmary she'd been taken there this afternoon because she'd swallowed a lot of strong disinfectant. Burnt her inside out, of course........ She was in great agony". (inspector) What had driven her to take her own life is not clear, but she must have been desperate. The audience is left wondering why she felt so insignificant, and uncared for to the point where she felt that she may as well not exist. ...read more.


Just as I was the wrong type. She was a very pretty girl too." Sheila then filed a complaint about Eva. "I was very rude to both of them, and then I went to the manager and told him this girl had been very impertinent, I couldn't be sorry for her". So once again by no fault of her own Eva was dismissed, the innocent girl was once again mistreated. Clearly, in those days, the customer was always right and Eva would have had no Union to turn to or an Equal Opportunities Policy to defend her position. Priestly uses Sheila's role to bring down the central character of the play. In spite of her misfortune Eva decided it was about time she made a fresh start and decided to change her name to Daisy Renton. At this point she was extremely poor and hadn't a penny to her name, still she had dignity and appeared not one to degrade herself. In fact she appeared a better person than the thieves and prostitutes she was associating with. Then one day by stroke of chance, after being rudely intimidated at a local dingy bar, she met Gerald. He rescued her from almost certain poverty and found her a place to stay. Eva apparently latched on to this man for he seemed kind and caring to her. ...read more.


They lived in the poorest conditions of the city and suffered rejection and racism every day of their lives. Language difficulties amongst the children meant that they failed at school and ended up on the streets with little to do but get into trouble with crime and drugs. Suicide rates among young Somali males rose dramatically due to their sense of hopelessness and lack of self esteem." It isn't certain whether Eva \ Daisy ever existed and if they did, they were probably not the same people. I think this is a good technique as it makes you really think about the play and acknowledge the characters and story line of the play. The plot holds the interest of the audience with changing moods and ranges from invoking a false sense of security to that of fear and anxiety at the end of each scene. The Inspector's role challenges Mr Birling's philosophy of looking after number one. This represents JB Priestly's strong moral views about compassion and justice. Goole provides the audience with a line of questioning that reflects their own thoughts and they would look to him as a solid figure helping them to predict what will happen next. Unfortunately, the Inspector proves to be a hoaxer and their trust is shattered...or was he real after all? For me, he was a supernatural figure representing good, and Eva was symbolic of the downtrodden. Priestly leaves a lot of important questions unanswered and leaves much to the imagination. ...read more.

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