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What Dramatic Effect Does the Inspector Have on Sheila?

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What Dramatic Effect Does the Inspector Have on Sheila? "An Inspector Calls" was written by J.B. Priestly in 1945. The play is about an Inspector who acts as a conscience to a fairly wealthy, middle class family, showing them what happens when they are selfish and thoughtless, only thinking of themselves. J.B. Priestly set the play in the spring of 1912. Between the setting of the play and the writing of the play, many events happened which J.B. Priestly had lived through, but his characters knew nothing about. The audience will be able to pick out the subtle references to these events, as well as the more obvious ones. The play was set only a few days before the Titanic set out on its disastrous voyage. Mr.Birling refers to the titanic as, "unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable." At that time this ship was considered the height of modern technology. Only a few days later, the Titanic sank. World War One began in 1914, only two years after the play is set. The Birlings do not believe there will be a war. Mr.Birling said, "I say there isn't a chance of war." There were other important events, such as the Spanish civil war, and the Suffragettes movement. Many women campaigned for rights, and eventually they were able to get many rights including the right to vote. ...read more.


When Mr.Birling says, "Nothing to do with you, Sheila. Run along.", it shows that he is trying to protect her from having anything to do with the situation. It seems that Sheila is very protected from unpleasant things like this, and always has been. The Inspector tells Sheila what has happened, and she is shocked. She says, "Oh, how terrible". In an interested way she asks, "Was it an accident?" It is obvious the news has upset Sheila, because the stage directions in front of what she says are, "rather distressed". This shows that she is sensitive, as at that point she doesn't even realize she knows this girl. Sheila listens to what her father says about Eva Smith. Sheila does not agree with his attitude towards the girl. This is evident when she says, "But these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people." She is even prepared to contradict her father when she says, "I think it was a mean thing to do. Perhaps that spoiled everything for her." Even by the end of Act 1, Sheila is beginning to change. She has become more mature in her attitudes. She has admitted her part in the death of Eva Smith and knows that Gerald is hiding something. She is acting much more maturely than he is and she says to him, "Oh don't be stupid." ...read more.


Sheila had returned it to Gerald when she had found out about his affair with Eva Smith. She says, "No, not yet. It's too soon. I must think." This shows both responsibility and maturity for two reasons. Firstly, she has not ruled him out completely and she is willing to give him a second chance. Also, she is not rushing into a decision, but she gives herself a chance to think it over. From her response to the Inspector and the whole situation, I would think that Sheila would be much more kind and considerate towards others, especially those less fortunate than herself. She would not judge people and be more open-minded. During the Inspector's visit, Sheila changed from a selfish, spoiled, excited, newly engaged girl, into a caring, responsible and open-minded person. Out of all the Birlings, and Gerald Croft, Sheila changes the most. She learns from the Inspector, and understands the purpose of his visit- To warn them of what will happen if they do not change their ways. In his final speech, the inspector says, "If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish." He is referring to World War One. Sheila realizes what this means, but it seems like Mr. and Mrs. Birling are the sort of people the Inspector is talking about when he makes that final speech. Because Sheila was able to learn from her mistakes, she will be a better person in the future. ...read more.

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