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In this essay I will be discussing whom was/were responsible for the suicide of Daisy Renton/ Eva smith in JB Priestly's "An Inspector Calls". I will discuss each character in turn and their involvement if any in the death of Eva Smith.

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Introduction

An Inspector Calls Who was to blame? In this essay I will be discussing whom was/were responsible for the suicide of Daisy Renton/ Eva smith in JB Priestly's "An Inspector Calls". I will discuss each character in turn and their involvement if any in the death of Eva Smith. Although each member of the Birling family and Gerald Croft have had contact with Eva Smith/Daisy Renton during the previous two years, none of them is aware of the others� involvement in the tragedy until the day of the inspector's visit. He makes them aware of the part they have played in her tragic end. The characters each react differently to the news and to the degree of responsibility, which they should bear. The first person to have contact with Eva was Arthur Birling. Mr Birling and the rest of his family are quite rich and would be part of the upper class. The first indication you get of this (apart from the description of the house at the beginning of the play) is the phrase from Mr Birling "tell cook from me", back in 1912 and indeed in modern times anyone who employed a cook would be quite "well off" and of a high social standing. Mr Birling is quite an arrogant and pompous man, probably because of his wealth and social standing. The phrase spoken by Birling in act 1 "I'm talking as a hard headed businessman" is a good indication of this arrogance. Another phrase, which is spoken by Birling also in Act 1 "working together for lower costs and higher prices", tells us that Birling cares more about profits than people, the phrase is also another indication of Birling's arrogance. Birling is quite social and seems to be the centre of conversation among his family and Gerald. He maintains a relaxed disposition and there is no indication of a bad temper when in this atmosphere. ...read more.

Middle

He took her for a drink and a meal because he pitied her and he learnt she was desperate and so let her use his friend's room. She then became his mistress and they were together for the whole summer of 1911. He finished with her and cast her aside because of his relationship with Sheila Birling. Gerald, throughout the play comes across in a way as a young Mr Birling. He constantly agrees with Mr Birling about The way business should be run, he also backed Birling up during his interrogation and agrees with Birlings actions towards Eva. I think Gerald's character is quite a vague one compared with the other characters. I can't really describe his character too well as he does not Seem to own many levels of personality or character. I do know however that Gerald is of a high social standing mainly because of his attitude to the lower class labourers and the mention of his father's profit making business. Gerald probably saw Eva as a lonely and desperate girl, and owing to the fact she was very pretty probably saw her as a good target for sex. The Phrase used by Gerald to describe their relationship, "I didn't feel about her as she felt about me" is why I believe Gerald just wanted Eva for sexual reasons, Eva however obviously wanted a real relationship with Gerald but did not get it. Even though Eva took the news of the break-up very well ("she was very gallant about it" in Gerald's words) I do believe this was a front and Eva was probably very upset about the break up. I believe this because Gerald did say, "she'd been happier than she was ever before". Being rejected by Gerald was probably more hurtful to Daisy than the dismissals inflicted on her by Arthur and Sheila Birling because there were strong emotions involved. ...read more.

Conclusion

By making her pregnant he put her in an unbearable position and is very much to blame for her downfall. The only two things in his favour were that he was sorry for what he had done and he tried to help her financially but these came too late for Eva. In my opinion Sybil Birling is the most to blame because she knew Eva was genuinely in need but still turned her away in a callous fashion. As the inspector tells her, "You refused her even the pitiable little bit of organised charity you had in your power to grant her". It is Sybil's uncaring attitude that makes her actions seem even worse. She adamantly refuses to accept any blame and although she is shocked by Eric's involvement she never shows any genuine remorse. In fact she believes she behaved correctly and "did my duty" in turning away an undeserving claim. She is typical of the sort of women involved in philanthropic societies at the time. Priestly criticises them for sitting on committees merely to ease their own consciences rather than out of a genuine desire to help. Although for this essay I had to choose which character carried the most blame I was not choosing who was legally wrong. I don't believe whether in the 1900's or in modern times that any character in the book would have been convicted for any kind of charge whether manslaughter or murder. Throughout the book I was constantly perplexed to why the Birlings and Gerald worried about being convicted. The use of an inspector instead of another form of character by Priestly puzzles me as the actions carried out by the characters in the book were purely of an ethical position than a legal one. Maybe priestly could not think of another type of character that could get almost blind obedience and submission from the Birling's and Gerald I don't know, but I do believe another form of a character is needed to be someone who wants to ethically blame instead of legally. Tom Westerman Leytonstone school 13411 8202 ...read more.

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