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Who in Your Opinion is most Responsible for the Death of Eva Smith?

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Who in Your Opinion is most Responsible for the Death of Eva Smith? 'An Inspector Calls' is a 1940s detective mystery play written by J.B. Priestley based around the suicide of the character Eva Smith, a working class woman who has a direct link to every member of the Birling family. Priestley's main anxiety was the idea of capitalism and it's 'every man is an island' ideas as he was a famous socialist. The Inspector in the play wants to show the Birlings that their actions have consequences and affect the lives of other people, irrespective of their class. Eva Smith's death was the result of a chain of events that began with the head of the Birling family, Mr Birling, sacking her from her job at his factory when she asked for higher wages than the meager amount he was paying her. Mr Birling does not think that he is in the wrong at all and that sacking her was a perfectly reasonable action to take; 'She'd had a lot to say - far too much - so she had to go.' ...read more.


Sheila's fianc´┐Ż, Gerald Croft, also plays a part in the chain of events leading to Eva Smith's suicide. The Inspector makes it apparent that Gerald knew more about Eva Smith than he had let on. Very early on in the play, Sheila had talked about how she did not see much of Gerald last summer; 'except for all last summer, when you never came near me and I wondered what had happened to you'. Gerald had claimed that he 'was very busy at the works at the time', but he soon admits that at this time he had been having an affair with Eva Smith, or Daisy Renton as she claimed her name was. He put her up in an apartment and continued to visit her there from time to time. As Eva (Daisy) had no one else, Gerald soon became the most important person in her life and she fell deeply in love with him. When Eva's life was in tatters, Gerald seemed to her like a way of getting her life back on track and when ...read more.


Mrs Birling is shocked at her son, especially after everything she had said about the father of Eva's child. Eric resorted to stealing from his father's office to try and temporarily support her which appalled his parents farther. Unlike his parents and Gerald Croft, Eric shows a lot of remorse and seems to realise the consequences of his actions; 'You're beginning to pretend now that nothings really happened at all... The girl's still dead, isn't she?' To conclude, I think everyone was partly to blame for the death of Eva Smith, but perhaps Mr Birling should be held mostly responsible for his actions triggered the chain of events that ultimately resulted in her suicide. What we can see by the end of the play is which characters are mature enough to accept that their actions have consequences, no matter what class someone is in. Surprisingly, the only two characters that understand what they have done wrong are the youngest, Eric and Sheila. I think that Priestley was trying to say something about the capitalism of the older generation of people and how the newer generations were taking on socialist ideas. ...read more.

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