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J.B. Priestley's play "An Inspector Calls" demonstrates why it is imperative to look after others in a community, rather that just yourself.

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An Inspector Calls J.B. Priestley's play "An Inspector Calls" demonstrates why it is imperative to look after others in a community, rather that just yourself. Priestley does this by explaining the Birling family who don't care about community and showing them, each in turn, that because of this they all had a role to play in the suicide of a girl named Eva Smith. I am going to examine the character of Sheila Birling in more depth to observe her reaction when she hears of her involvement and whether or not this experience has changed her view on community values. However, prior to this, I shall give a brief summary of the play. The play, "takes place in the dining room of the Birlings' house in Brumley, a fictional industrial city in the North Midlands." The Birlings are of the higher middle class and can afford to live in luxury. Their house is sturdy and they can afford pretty clothes and real wood furniture. "The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike." The family are celebrating the engagement of Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft and a good time is being had by all. ...read more.


Sheila first realises she is involved in the death when the Inspector, "produces the photograph. She looks at it closely, recognizes it with a little cry, gives a half-stifled sob, and then runs out." She is obviously one of the characters in the play who doesn't try to deny having played any part in the death of the girl. This is obvious from her reaction. Sheila had not known Eva very well, but well enough to have had a very big influence on her life and death. Sheila had been in Milwards, the shop in which Eva worked after she was sacked from Birling and Company. It was a job she had only found after some difficultly. Sheila had gone to try on a dress. It had been an idea of her own. Her mother and the assistant had both been against the idea, but she had insisted. It hadn't suited her at all and she looked silly in it. When Eva had brought the dress for Sheila to try on, she held it up to herself and it suited her. As it didn't suit Sheila herself, she was jealous and when she caught sight of Eva smiling at the assistant while she was trying on the dress she was furious. ...read more.


It also invites the reader to think about which of the characters might behave differently when the 'real' Inspector arrives. When the 'real' Inspector calls I think that Sheila will behave differently, because she has now changed her views on society and now feels more responsible for others and how her actions affect them. She might also own up straight away rather than trying to hide what she did unlike her mother, father and Gerald. I think that Sheila has undergone a true change as a result of this experience. She has learned something and I don't think that she is too keen to let it go, "whoever that Inspector was, it was anything but a joke. You knew it then. You began to learn something. And now you've stopped. You're ready to go on in the same old way." " I remember what he said, how he looked, and what he made me feel." I think this quote proves the change in her attitude and she has become a more admirable person at the end of the play than at the beginning. She seems to have broken free of the spoiled brat label. Explaining Sheila has taught me that you are a better person if you are watchful of others and take responsibility for your actions. Elspeth Renfrew Marr College English ...read more.

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