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Sheila Birling is the only character that changes significantly over the course of the play. Describe how Sheila's character changes using examples from the play. Show how Priestly used Sheila to convey his own opinions and attitudes about society.

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Introduction

Sheila Birling is the only character that changes significantly over the course of the play. Describe how Sheila's character changes using examples from the play. Show how Priestly used Sheila to convey his own opinions and attitudes about society. J.B. Priestley was born on the 13th September 1894, in a middle class home in Bradford, Yorkshire, which was a large industrial area that produced cotton in the mills. Priestley grew up in a thoroughly middle class home in a place where socialist ideals thrived, and was proud of the fact that his grandparents were mill workers. He gained real experience and understanding of working class life and people when writing 'Rain upon Godshill' (1939). It was about his visits to "grandparents and uncles and aunts who still lived in the wretched little 'back to back' houses in the long, dark streets behind the mills.'' He uses 'An Inspector Calls' to expose the exploitation and oppression of the lower classes by the higher classes at that time. ...read more.

Middle

Oh - darling! Sheila appears to be unfocused over her father's speeches at the dinner table and has to be told to listen. This suggests that she neither find his opinions interesting nor agrees with them, which may point to her future conduct in the play. Sheila's explanation of her behaviour when interviewed by the Inspector shows how naive and thoughtless she was up to that point. However, unlike Birling she feels very upset about her behaviour, shown by her running out of the room sobbing when first shown the photograph of Eva Smith. She also swears that she will "never, never do it [behaving like that towards others] again to anybody. This is a turning point in the play for Sheila. Almost at once she sheds her image of being a naive and ignorant young lady and takes on the most thoughtful understanding of the Inspector's message. During the rest of the play she often makes several cutting remarks during the other characters interviews with the Inspector. ...read more.

Conclusion

As they show no sign of having learnt their lesson from the night's events, she despairingly says "you don't seem to have learnt anything". When the Inspector is exposed as a fake she endures the mockery of her parents yet continually clings to her beliefs. In summary, during the course of the play Sheila changes from a rather naive and ignorant young lady into a person who can fully understand the Inspector's message and see that he is right. She is the person who becomes the Inspector's ally during the questioning and agrees with him the most. An interesting point in the story is that whilst Eric has had an education and Sheila it appears that has not, at least not to the same level, yet she seems a lot more sensible and mature than Eric by the end of the play. Priestley wanted the audience to learn from the mistakes of the Birlings. I think that Priestley wanted to make a difference; not a world changing difference, but a small difference in the way people think and conduct themselves. ...read more.

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