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Who is to blame for the death of Eva Smith?

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Introduction

Neha Shah - 10EC/10P2 Who Is To Blame For The Death Of Eva Smith? Responsibility is at heart in this play. It is set in 1912 to show us how the family act and behave during the Edwardian period, in particular their reaction to class and status. J B Priestly wrote An Inspector Calls to make us realise our actions and to think about our moral values. The family include Mr and Mrs Birling, Sheila and Eric Birling and Gerald Croft (Sheila's fianc�). In this essay I will analyse each characters behaviour and give evidence on their involvement and responsibility of Eva Smith's death. Mr Arthur Birling is the head of the family. He is a devoted business man, full of greed and selfishness. He thinks of himself "...as a hard-headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he's about...". He believes that everyone should look after themselves and hates the concept of society. "...is that a man has to make his own way - has to look after himself and his family too..." Mr Birling is the first to be questioned by the Inspector. When he hears about the death, he feels no sympathy or anxiety. He acts rather calmly and innocently. Eva smith was an employee of Mr Birling in his factory, Birling and Company. He didn't like the fact that she was arrogant and stood up for himself. She protested a pay rise. He sacks her, feeling that "...it's my duty to keep labour costs down...". ...read more.

Middle

He doesn't want Sheila to tell the Inspector the truth but he knows Gerald's involvement already. Gerald met Eva last summer at the Palace Bar. He mentions he "...noticed a girl who looked quite different. She was very pretty soft brown hair and big dark eyes...". Gerald loved and cares for her but they both knew it wouldn't last. Eva and Gerald refer to it being the best six months of their lives. At the time he wasn't aware of Sheila's feelings and his actions. He lied to Sheila about where he was, making him untrustworthy and unfaithful. His behaviour hasn't really changed throughout the play. After being questioned and revealing the truth he still acts as if nothing has happened. Mrs Birling is the lady of the house. She is her husband's social superior but they share similar characteristics to Mr. Birling. She is a lady in her fifties known to be cold-hearted, prejudiced and a selfish person who is domineering and looks down on people. Mrs Birling reacts to the death very carelessly and does not change her behaviour like Mr Birling. She denies having any responsibility for the death and starts to blame it on everyone else. She shows no emotion towards the situation. She is an influential member of the Brumely Woman's Charity Organization and the last member of the family to have contacts with Eva smith. At first she denies knowing Eva when she saw the photograph because she had to protect her status. ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows his selfishness and narrow-minded attitude. Sheila's character is completely different to her father. She accepts the responsibility and believes it is entirely her fault. She admits to what she has done wrong and faces the cost of her actions. Her mother, Mrs Birling refused to help when it is necessary. We can say she gave Eva the last rejection and push she needed to choose whether to committee suicide. Sybil refuses to take any responsibility and that what she has done wrong which shows her arrogance and mean spirit. She doesn't learn anything from the death and acts like nothing has happened. She gives no notice in other peoples needs and concerns and only thinks of herself. We could say part of the blame rests upon her. Eric used Eva for love but he shows at the end of the play by his reaction to the death, that he does care for her. That is his reason for him stealing the money from his own father and they way he reacted when he found out his mother rejected her. He admits to his responsibility and feels ashamed for his actions. Gerald deserves the least blame and is least responsible for the death of Eva, simply because he did really love her and made her happy at one stage. Although what he did was wrong because he used her and ruined his relationship with Sheila. In my opinion it would be unfair to blame each individual as they all contributed to the reason of Eva committing suicide. What the Birling's have done was typical for that period so should we blame the society that they lived in for her death and not the family themselves? ...read more.

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