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Sheila and Eric Birling are described as ‘impressionable’ by the inspector. Do their characters change throughout the investigation, and do you think that they will have learnt something from this experience? Refer to the film version that we ha

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Introduction

Sheila and Eric Birling are described as 'impressionable' by the inspector. Do their characters change throughout the investigation, and do you think that they will have learnt something from this experience? Refer to the film version that we have studied also. The play in the book opens on a happy scene: the announcement of Sheila and Gerald's engagement. There is a minor argument between Sheila and Eric after Eric laughs at Sheila when she teases Gerald. Mr Birling makes a lot of speeches, and even includes something about business in one: "...perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but working together..." This shows that he thinks of business all the time, and that it is very important to him, so important that he brings it up in the middle of a celebration for his daughter. When Gerald produces an engagement ring for Sheila, she almost starts crying because she is so happy. Sheila and her mother leave the 'men' alone, and go into the drawing room. ...read more.

Middle

She is surprised when she hears about how Eva got a good job in a shop she knows: "Milwards! We go there..." When she realises that she is partly to blame for Eva's suicide, she runs out after 'a little cry and a half-stifled sob'. When she comes back, after seeing the photograph, she tells the Inspector: "You knew it was me all the time, didn't you?" To which he replies" "I had an idea it might be-from something the girl herself wrote." She realises that the Inspector knew about the whole thing, and was just after confessions, and to prove to them that they were not perfect, just because they were high-class people. Sheila then explains everything only using the excuse that she was in a furious temper, knowing it would be worse for her, and futile, if she hid anything. Mrs Birling comes in to the room after Gerald's confession, which he is not sorry for what he has done, and immediately 'builds bridges between them and the girl'. Sheila starts to tell her mother not to that, but Mrs Birling does not understand, and tells the Inspector: "You seem to have made a great impression on this child, Inspector." ...read more.

Conclusion

* He phones the infirmary, where the girl is supposed to have died, but there are definitely no suicide cases, and there haven't been for three months. Sheila and Eric refuse to believe this, and cannot pretend nothing has happened, like the others can. Mrs Birling believes the situation is funny, and that: "In the morning they'll be as amused as we are." When the phone rings, and there is the same information as 'Inspector Goole' gave out about a girl dying on her way to the infirmary, and also that a police inspector is on his way round to question them, they all feel guilty, and the play ends. Sheila and Eric are more impressionable because they are from a younger generation, and are not 'set in their ways', like everyone else. This causes them to believe that they have done wrong, and to accept their share of the blame, as well as trying to convince the others that they are partly to blame as well. They also have no prejudice against the lower classes, and so can feel sympathy and remorse for what they have done, whereas Gerald and Mr and Mrs Birling cannot, because the girl is not from their class. ...read more.

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