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Inspector Calls: Who is to blame for the death of Eva Smith?

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Introduction

Inspector Calls: Who is to blame for the death of Eva Smith? In the play An Inspector Calls in Act Three, the Inspector tells the Birling family, "The girl killed herself and died a horrible death". But each of the characters helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it. I will now examine each character in turn to assess each person's responsibility for the death of Eva Smith. I have used source material from a copy of the play and a videocassette of edited highlights based on the production. The story begins when the mysterious Inspector Goole calls unexpectedly on the prosperous Birling family; his startling revelations not only shatter the very foundations of their lives but also challenge us all to examine our consciences. Firstly, it must be remembered that the Birling Family are guilty of no actual crime, although all have contributed to the downfall of a particular person due to their particular attitudes and beliefs. Therefore it could be said that Eva Smith was simply a victim of her class and time. The idea of the play, and particularly the role of the inspector are to try to bring the Birling family to understand that they have a moral responsibility for the death of Eva Smith, if not a legal one. ...read more.

Middle

It is obvious from what Sheila says that she believes she is entirely to blame and feels great guilt, for which she will be forever affected. It is also clear that her character and views have been altered by the event and the impact of the inspector. Gerald Croft, the only person who is not a direct relation to from the Birling family, but is engaged to Sheila, also has significant involvement with the death of Eva Smith. Gerald recognises the name Daisy Renton as soon as he hears the inspector say it. After at first trying to make Sheila leave the room, for reasons that become more apparent later, he tells the story of how he met Eva Smith, or as he knew her Daisy Renton. He describes her as a "Very pretty soft brown hair and big dark eyes" Gerald claims to have rescued her from horrible old Meggarty in the County Hotel and set her up in a friend's set of rooms, where she later, inevitably, became his mistress. He is clearly upset by what has happened to her, she knew it couldn't last. "She didn't blame me at all. I wish to god she had now. Perhaps I'd feel better about it". A question that must be asked however, is just how genuine is he? ...read more.

Conclusion

The reactions of the family then change to that of relief for Mr and Mrs Birling, whilst Gerald, Eric and Sheila still feel guilty and regret what they have done. It seems that the elder generation are unmoved by the experience, while Sheila and Eric are completely at odds with their parents. Eric than says, "I agree with Sheila. It frightens me too�. It's still the same rotten story whether it's been told to a police inspector or not. The phone then rings with news that an inspector is being sent over in connection with the death of a young woman and the scenario starts again. Mr and Mrs Birling seem more concerned about their reputation than with the death, while Eric, Sheila and Gerald are still in shock. In conclusion, it would be unfair to blame a single person, as each character contributed to the death of Eva Smith. It may be more wise to blame society and they way in which we live, as it is Eva Smiths class and time that set her apart, no real crime has been committed and it is more a case if social conscience, consequently a moral responsibility should be shared by the family and their future actions affected to aid others and not just themselves. The play is not so much about the Birling family themselves, but about society in general, J B Priestley shrewdly performs this as he manipulates the effect of time difference to get his message across. Jamie Edwards 11L ...read more.

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