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Who is most responsible for the death of Eva Smith?

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Introduction

WHO IS MOST RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF EVA SMITH? There are many issues presented by J.B. Priestley in 'An Inspector Calls'. One of the main issues in the play is associated with the dramatic change of society and culture from the beginning of the 20th Century. J.B. Priestley cleverly hides this in the language of the characters in the play, in particular Mr. Birling and Inspector Goole. Mr. Birling and Inspector Goole can be split into two sides of society, socialism and capitalism. The Birlings are a rich middle class family with a high income generated by their own business. The older Birlings, Mr. and Mrs. Birling, are more directed to capitalism. This is clearly shown in their language. Early on, Priestley uses Mr. Birling to show dramatic irony and the smug complacency of Mr. Birling. This is done when Mr. Birling talks about the Titanic sailing soon. He emphasizes the words unsinkable as though he would know it would sink. The Titanic was a symbol of great power and authority; it showed just what we could achieve. The Titanic was highly complex and its design was based upon the class system with poor, working class people at the bottom of the ship and the middle and upper classes at the top with access to the decks and luxurious restaurants. On its journey to America it tragically sank beneath the water killing over a thousand people. This symbolised the collapse of the hierarchy of the population projecting a future of more equality between everyone. Mr. Birling and Mrs. Birling along with many other elder middle class citizens thought that everything would stay the same forever and nothing will provoke any change. The elder citizens of the middle class had such a fixed attitude they would ignore or dismiss any claims of war or labour trouble. Arthur Birling crawled his way into the middle class from his childhood of working class. This has made him more aware of his position and his privileges. ...read more.

Middle

He is angry at Eric only for stealing money and not for having sexual intercourse with a prostitute. He is trying to expel his blame by criticising the behaviour of others. I feel Mr. Birling is largely to blame for the death of Eva Smith because he possibly started it all by sacking her. If Eva still had a job at the start she would never have gone through what was described in the play. Once the Inspector had finished getting information from Mr. Birling, he needed the next part of the story. At this point he started to question Sheila. On the news of Eva's death Sheila is quite distressed. She clearly shows emotion for Eva unlike Mr. Birling. At first she does not know any Eva Smith until the Inspectors mentions Milwards. Sheila gets a little curious when the Inspector describes Eva's second job in detail. Eva Smith struck luck. At the beginning of December 1910 there was quite a lot of influenza virus about. This virus struck a majority of employees at Milwards clothes store and there were job vacancies. Eva Smith applied for a job at Milwards and she got the job. Eva liked working at Milwards as she was among many pretty clothes and it was a new start, a new life perhaps. The Inspector then says Eva Smith was sacked from Milwards at the beginning of February 1911. She was sacked because a customer had complained about her in January. Sheila knows she made a complaint in January 1911 about a rude worker and asked more questions to find out more about Eva Smith. She asked what Eva looked like and the Inspector showed her a photo. Sheila recognised it and ran off crying. She later returns and openly admits to knowing Eva and making a complaint about her. At this point she becomes rather aggressive in giving her details about her involvement. ...read more.

Conclusion

She accepted the money but later refused more. This was because she found out Eric had stolen the money. He stole the money from his father's office. He did this by collecting some payments and keeping the money whilst putting receipts in the office. He intended to pay it back. Eric and Eva split up and never talked again. After being turned down by the charity she committed suicide only two hours before the play started. After the Inspector leaves, Eric is still angry with his parents about Eva Smith and is quite ashamed with himself and his parents. He is more emotionally touched like Sheila unlike Mr. and Mrs. Birling. After his involvement with Eva Smith was revealed, he has become more mature and now sticks up for himself. He is made to feel guilty by his parents for stealing money although he hasn't been punished or shamed for using a woman only for sexual intercourse. I feel Eric has a minor blame for the death of Eva Smith as he made her pregnant but Mrs. Birling could have resolved this problem. After writing this essay I feel that the elder Birlings are most responsible for the death of Eva Smith. This is because they made matters worse when Eva encountered problems. Their fixed attitude towards society determined their behaviour when confronted by Eva Smith and her problems. When Eric made Eva pregnant, Mrs. Birling refused to give her any help. When Eva needed more money, Mr. Birling sacked her because he was greedy and wanted to keep any money for himself. Mr. Birling and Mrs. Birling have a combined blame because Mr. Birling started it all and Mrs. Birling would not solve the problem leading Eva to her suicide. Their anti-social behaviour caused a death just like World War One and Two. Priestley is saying that capitalist behaviour is a danger to our society and if it isn't stopped, we will suffer the consequences. These consequences were death in war. This backs what Priestley is saying; we haven't learnt anything. Ryan McDonnell 10a1 10CTJ ...read more.

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