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To what degree do you think that Sheila and Eric's actions are the results of having Mr. and Mrs. Birling as parents?

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Introduction

To what degree do you think that Sheila and Eric's actions are the results of having Mr. and Mrs. Birling as parents? Throughout 'An Inspector Calls', Sheila and Eric do things that seem very erratic and irrational to Mr. and Mrs. Birling. With the coming of the Inspector, both of the Birling children change, and their actions are very unlike those at the beginning of the play. However, how much is this a result of having Mr. and Mrs. Birling as parents? At the beginning of the play, Sheila seems like a spoilt and sheltered little girl, with a liking for material things. This is shown when Gerald gives her the ring, and she suddenly changes from quiet and serious, to excited with, "Oh-it's wonderful! Look mummy- isn't it a beauty - oh darling". I think this attitude is completely as a result of having Mr. and Mrs. Birling as her parents. Arthur Birling has shown that he likes to have fine things (i.e. the expensive port) to show how wealthy he is, and as the Birlings are an upper-class family, they most definitely have brought Sheila up with the knowledge that material goods are everything. ...read more.

Middle

This is an action definitely not affected by her upbringing by Mr. and Mrs. Birling, but by her own social conscious, something that her parents lack. Her social conscious is shown even more when she states that, "but these girls aren't cheap labour - their people". This again shows her breaking off from her parents and becoming an independent person of her own. Sheila also shows characteristics unlike her parents further on in the play - she shows love, or at least a kindness, to her family, something that her parents do not show. Even as her mother is treating her as if she was a child, Sheila still tries to warn her of how the Inspector will twist what she is saying later on. Of course Mrs. Birling ignores her, but Sheila perseveres even if it is a lost cause. Sheila also shows signs of deduction and intelligence when she guesses early on that the Inspector knows everything about what is going on, and that between them they all killed Eva Smith. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, as a reaction to his father's desperateness for respect and titles, Eric simply does not care about public opinion. Eric even says to his father that, "what does it matter now whether they give you a knighthood or not?" Eric has, unlike his parents, learned his lesson and like Sheila is remorseful about his part in Eva Smith's death. He also shows he does have some integrity by saying that he will pay back all the money he stole from the office. He also has the courage to admit he is wrong, and accept the consequences, which shows he is emotionally maturing, which is something he had never done before. In conclusion, I do think that Sheila and Eric's actions are the results of having Mr. and Mrs. Birling as parents. At the beginning of the play, they both act immature and childish, because their parents only treat them as children. Then as the play moves on, we see them act and think differently, something which is also because of having Mr. and Mrs. Birling as parents. The Inspector simply acts as a catalyst, but they become the opposite of their parents - socially conscious, mature people who can admit that they are wrong. ...read more.

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