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Who is Responsible for the Death of 'Eva Smith'

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Luke Martin 20/10/2002 Who is Responsible for the Death of 'Eva Smith' In this essay I am going to show from the story line of 'An Inspector Calls' just who really was responsible for the death of 'Eva Smith' and how it affected the characters in different ways. The play was written by J.B Priestley; he was born in 1894 in Bradford. Influenced by his father who was devoted to education. Priestley left school at 16, but then returned to Cambridge University in 1921, to study political science and modern history. He then moved to London to become a writer and immediately became friendly with many famous writers. Priestly was an instant success; as by the age of 30 he had published 5 books and then another 9 in the 3 years following. He was a firm believer in socialism, and was for the poor and against the rich. Arthur Birling was a rich man and only seemed to care about his family and how well his business was progressing, in other words how much money he was earning. He didn't care about any of his workers, and didn't know them at all, as it quotes in the book, 'I have a couple of hundred workers under me, who keep changing'. Therefor this shows that there was no personal relationship with Arthur Birling and Eva Smith until after the strike. Arthur Birling states that all the workers had just come back from their holidays and had become very restless, and then just decided to demand for a pay rise or they would go on strike. Of course he denied it, so all the workers wouldn't come back. After a while they were all begging to come back because they were becoming poor, so Arthur Birling let them all back and fired the ringleaders, one of whom, Eva Smith. Eva Smith was now out of work for two months, and was earning no money. ...read more.


Sheila and Eric hang on to the conviction that "it was anything but a joke" while accepting that there may have been more than one girl and that no girl may have committed suicide. Personally, I believe that the creation of the Inspector by Priestly was to portray a personal message to all the readers, that we are all equal and do not rise above one another. The Inspector�s words echo Priestley�s own thinking. Also that Eva Smith represents a personal message also. She represents all working class girls who become exploited by surrounding people who think they are better than her. I also believe that the Inspector is supposed to be the characters guilty conscience. I have come to realise that during the play, Sheila had changed the most in her attitude to life and others. At the beginning she was very stubborn and she acted like a 'spoiled little brat�, but towards the end of the play, she became the most sensible one out of all the characters. Eric and Sheila have learned the most, if it was a non-fictional story, these two people would have been changed for the rest of their life because of this experience. They have learnt not to take any thing for granted and try and see things from other people's point of view. They have also learnt never to judge someone by the way they look or where they came from otherwise something such as this could happen again that and that would be far too much to bare. The Inspectors goal was to make all of the characters feel guilty for what they had done to Eva Smith, and he was very successful in doing so, as he had turned the family against each other and upside down. I'm not sure if he meant to do that purposely, but he made them think about life and how one action, can make a lot of difference. ...read more.


The ending, as I have already pointed out, symbolises the fact that if you do not learn your lesson the first time, you will be taught it again and again. It symbolises that you can't run from your conscience, as the Birlings will find out. Priestley uses the dramatic twist of the Inspector returning at the end of the play to emphasis this point, and makes it more effective by placing it just as the characters are beginning to relax. It serves to 'prick' the consciences of both the characters and the audience. If I was able to direct one section or part of the play, it would be when the inspector enters the Birlings household. I would make it so the atmosphere in the room is very happy and cheerful with the lighting very bright and bold. Then when the inspector enters the lights would flicker and a crash of thunder would be heard. The inspector would then appear out of nowhere and be standing in the corner of the room with a spot light on him and the rest of the dark room in dimmed light to create an atmosphere. I would also make it so everyone in the room is shocked and in horror at the surprise of the inspector making such a sudden and dramatic entrance. I would then direct the inspector to slowly walk, silently across the room. Then as he gets closer to them, say in a deep, grough and voice of authority, 'Good evening'. He would be dressed in a brown trench coat with black pressed trousers, a matching black hat a crisp white shirt and a black tie as a mark of respect for Eva Smith and clean, polished black shoes. He would be very well shaven and would have taken his hat off upon entering the house. His hair would be brushed slickly to the side as a side parting. He would be a very over powering person but not very well built. All of the others in the room would be dressed very smartly, maybe in evening wear. ...read more.

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