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Who is most responsible for the death of Eva Smith?

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Introduction

"The girl killed herself, and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it." This is what the Inspector tells the Birling family in Act Three. He is correct when he says that each one of them helped to kill this innocent girl, however which member of the family is most responsible? The story begins with a celebration of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft's engagement, which is rudely interrupted by an unwanted visit by an Inspector. As the Inspector enters, he tells the audience "Two hours ago, a young woman died in the Infirmary. She'd been taken there this afternoon after swallowing a lot of strong disinfectant. Burnt her inside out, of course." The Birling family are shocked, but little do they know that the Inspectors startling revelations will shatter the very foundations of their lives, but cause them all to examine their consciences. The Inspector begins by getting the truth out of Mr Birling. Eva Smith had once worked for Mr Birling in his factory, and had fired her one-day because of a strike. Mr Birling has a justified reason for the expulsion of Eva from his factory, as in 1912 it was quite common for people to be fired after striking. However, when Mr Birling immediately shakes off the responsibility, immediately the audience take a disliking towards him. ...read more.

Middle

The Inspector goes on to exploit Gerald, and the plot continues to unfold. It turns out that Gerald saw Eva in a bar one night, and saved her from an Alderman who was making advances on this young poor money. This makes Gerald seem like a kind man, as he assisted the woman. After Eva and Gerald had talked for a while, they became very good friends, in fact they became than just friends. Gerald made love to Eva and then insisted that she stayed in this little set of rooms in Morgan Terrace. Eva moved into the rooms, and Gerald gave her money, as she had nowhere to stay and no money to buy any food or other necessities. This makes Gerard appear as though he is a kind man, however the audience is forgetting, that he was still seeing Sheila at the same time, and this adds to the guilt of him. He mistreats Sheila, and Sheila is obviously upset, however Mr and Mrs Birling seem to dismiss the affair and think that it is okay. Priestly does this so it makes Gerald seem less guilty, because if the two oldest (and supposedly wisest) people of the family, dismiss it and think that its okay, it makes the audience not as angry at him as they probably should be. At first he denies the affair, but afterwards he does eventually admit to it, but the initial denial makes him seem guiltier than he perhaps is. ...read more.

Conclusion

Mrs Birling turned her away, as when Eva lied to Mr Birling about her name (Eva called herself Mrs Birling, and the real Mrs Birling was offended that someone of that class could have the same name as her), and because of this, Eva Smith was pushed over the edge and took her life. Mrs Birling, like Mr Birling, had a slightly justified reason as to sending away the pregnant woman, as she lied about one thing, what was stopping her from lying about another, however she too, denied all responsibility for the matter in hand, and tried to shift the blame. Her lack of remorse and the fact that she blames others make her seem very guilty. Also the fact that she was the last person in the chain of events before Eva took her life makes her seem the guiltiest in my opinion. Mrs Birling even admits that she was prejudice towards Eva's case, and her obsession with her status makes her seem the guiltiest. In conclusion, in my opinion I think that Mrs Birling was the one most responsible for the death of Eva Smith, for the reasons that she was the last one in the chain of events, pushing Eva over the edge, her arrogance and lack of remorse instantly makes the audience take a strong disliking to her snobbish ways, and the prejudice attitude she has towards people of a lower class is appalling and in my eyes, she seems the one most responsible for Eva's death by far. ...read more.

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