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How far do you think each character is responsible for Eva Smith’s suicide and why? Which do you think is the most responsible?

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Introduction

How far do you think each character is responsible for Eva Smith's suicide and why? Which do you think is the most responsible? This essay will analyse how far each character is responsible for Eva Smith's downfall and subsequent suicide and which character or characters are most responsible. The Inspector says that it was a `chain of events' that led to Eva's downfall; I will analyse this `chain of events'. Starting by analysing opiates, lighting and doors and their uses in the play. I will subsequently look at the three unities of time, place and action and Koros Hubris Ate, then Arthur Birling, his responsibility and the effect it had on Eva Smith. Next I will analyse Sheila Birling and the effect of her behaviour and what mitigates that behaviour, thirdly Gerald Croft, next Sybil Birling and then Eric Birling. I will continue by analysing the gradual revelation of Eva's character and look at Edna the maid and what they represent. Finally I will analyse Inspector Goole and the second inspector. For each I will look closely at the use of language, actions of the characters, stage directions and entrances and exits. Entrances and exits are important as they are used to structure the play. Doors are used as a metaphor for new idea's and opportunities. Entrances and exits through doors are used to structure the play. Mr. Birling does not want to open his mind to a new way of thinking: `(Turns at the door, staring at the Inspector angrily.)' ...read more.

Middle

At this stage she has self-satisfaction and is enjoying life. She shows no evidence of a conscience for any past events. She has Koros, which means she will commit Hubris at some point in the play this will inevitably end with Ate. Sheila is in her early twenties, a very impressionable age and like Eric susceptible to change. Of the seven sins I think Sheila represents envy: `She was a very pretty girl too.' Sheila noticed Eva's appearance above all else and as she was prettier than her, automatically formed a negative opinion of her, as she was jealous. This makes the audience feel she was partly responsible. This changes through the play as Sheila learns a moral lesson. Out of all the characters, throughout the play, Sheila is changed the most by the Inspector. By the end of the play the audience is starting to feel sympathy for Sheila: `...if all that's come out tonight is true, then it doesn't much matter who it was that made us confess...[t]hat's what's important - and not whether a man is a police inspector or not.' This mitigates her behaviour. Sheila could represent a feminist, or with Eric could represent the younger generation. I believe Preistley wanted the audience to make the assumption that they represented the younger generation who were more impressionable and susceptible to change. Gerald Croft is the next in this `Chain of Events'. When Gerald is first interrogated by the Inspector he seems to be genuinely shocked and feels quite bad: `She was very pretty - soft brown hair and big dark eyes -(breaks off.) ...read more.

Conclusion

' The Inspector repeats `millions' so it will have more of an effect on the audience. He also uses a tripartite structure like all great orators, and goes on to say: `...We don't live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other...' The use of the pronoun `we' involves the audience, as well as the family, to manipulate them in to saying they are responsible. This anaphora also has a lasting effect on the audience. The visiting of a second inspector at the end of the play, reinforces the idea that the first one wasn't real. We could then argue what the first Inspector represents. I think it could represent more than one thing, I think the most likely things it could represent are Preistley, the voice of justice, or a God. The second inspector is needed to help Mr and Mrs. Birling and Gerald reach a point of moral responsibility. In conclusion I feel that who is most responsible for Eva Smith's downfall and subsequent suicide is immaterial and more importantly only Sheila and Eric have reached a point of moral responsibility. Mr and Mrs. Birling and Gerald are still in their original state of ignorance. Perhaps the arrival of the second inspector will change their judgement of Eva and the working class. I think Preistley's main purpose for writing the play was to raise the moral responsibility of the audience. ...read more.

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