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Trace the development of Sheila throughout the play, and discuss her function as a character in relation to shaping the audience's response

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Trace the development of Sheila throughout the play, and discuss her function as a character in relation to shaping the audience's response Within this essay I intend to explore the possibility that Sheila transmogrifies from a very material, individualist being in a philosophical sense, to having a much more socialist perspective, including her thoughts on social responsibility, and her own family's role in this new attitude. In my opinion, Sheila's function within this play is to stimulate free thinking amongst the younger members of the audience, and encourage them to re-think their ideals, morals and belief, aiming mainly to turn the audience towards socialism. When we first meet Shelia in the first act, she comes across to the audience as immature, spoilt and very much materialistic - a typical upper-class adolescent female. She demonstrates her immaturity in the manner with which she addresses her parents, calling them: 'mummy,' and, 'daddy,' in the same fashion with which a toddler might address its mother and father. This infantile attitude is due to her lack of life experience, and the fact remains that she has been mollycoddled throughout her childhood, slowing down her progression into adulthood. Shelia acts like a child, thus her parents threat her as they would a child. ...read more.


Perhaps most importantly of all, she learns from her actions, promising: 'I'll never, never do it again to anybody.' This new-found maturity of course has implications on her relationship with Gerald. Instead of being the subservient 'typical woman' of the day in the relationship, she assumes the power role. She does this initially by disobeying Gerald - he tells her to 'leave it at that,' to which she replies: 'We can't leave it at that,' - and then going as far as to call him a fool when he suggests his secret can be kept from the inspector. Sheila's evolution and expansion of mind continues into Scene two, where she persists in making her own decisions, rather than letting the menfolk make them for her. Gerald reacts poorly to this, accusing her of wanting to see him put through 'it,' - 'it' being the questioning (or perhaps even interrogation). Sheila resented this, telling him: 'so that's what you think I'm really like. I'm glad I realised in time.' This illustrates change in the way she feels about her husband-to-be, and a realisation that she doesn't have to fulfil the wishes of her mother, father or anyone else. She has become independent. However, this independence came at a price. To be freed from her parents reign, she had to be shown the hard side of life, and this has seriously affected her. ...read more.


The argument continues in much the same fashion. Gerald and Mr & Mrs Birling try to convince Eric and Sheila (but secretly themselves) that the whole affair if irrelevant and all that matters is Mr Birling's finances and public image. Eric and Shelia passionately argue their case, but to no avail. Priestly warns, through Sheila, that it'll all end in 'Fire and blood and anguish.' This is his warning to society - if Britain continues the way it's going, it could well end up in civil war, or worse.. J.B. Priestly intended this production to appeal to the youth of Britain because, as the oft-quoted proverb cites 'the youth of today will rule the world of tomorrow.' This means that if the majority of youth are in favour of socialist reform, it is highly likely that someone in favour of such reform would be voted into power - this play, at its most basic level, is nothing more than a piece of propaganda, intricately designed to subconsciously sway the most malleable, susceptible minds within the audience. So far, Priestley's prediction of a capitalist-induced war has become increasingly likely to come true. Capitalism, socialism - it is irrelevant, as conflict has become so deeply engrained in the human psyche, it'll take more than revolution to rid the world of it. ?? ?? ?? ?? Joe Kingham ...read more.

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