Who (or what) do you think is to blame for the death of Eva Smith?
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A Modern Drama Coursework Title: Who (or what) do you think is to blame for the death of Eva Smith? 'An Inspector Calls' is a Modern Drama written by JB Priestley in 1945 and first performed in 1946, was one of his most successful plays in which the idea of class is clearly publicised. John Boynton Priestley born in 1845 always knew that he wanted to become a writer. After gaining a degree from Cambridge, priestly wrote successful articles and essays, then published the first of many novels, The Good Companions in 1929. Most of his writings were ground- breaking and controversial. He included many of his ideas about possible parallel universes and political messages into many of his plays and books. During the 1930's Priestly was very concerned about the consequences of social inequality in Britain. Soon after the Second World War, Priestley was hoping for a change in the attitude of the people towards women and other citizens who are lower class in society. The play itself is set in 1912 but the issue that Priestley is focusing is still relevant in the 1940's. In the play 'An Inspector Calls' each character is responsible for the death of Eva Smith in one way or another. Each person played a part in ruining her life and finally forcing her to commit suicide by drinking disinfectant. In the play, we are told that the problems begin for Eva when Mr Birling sacked her from her job. Arthur Birling, the head of the family is described as a 'heavy- looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties but rather provincial in his speech.' The character of Arthur Birling is what we would expect from the Birling family. He is a middle class man and from a respectable family. We can also see from the opening line of the play that he is aware of the people who are his social superiors, which is why he shows off the port to Gerald, It's exactly the same port your father gets."
She knows that things are not going to be the same as before and that is one of the main reasons why she broke off her engagement with Gerald, "You and I aren't the same people who sat down to dinner her." It is also ironic that Mrs Birling say's 'don't be childish', when in fact Sheila is the only one being the least childish out of them all. She is more mature and brave than all of them, enough to admit the truth and accept the responsibility. Sheila has learnt her lesson and has changed from the woman in the beginning of the play and at Milwards, to a more mature young woman than her own parents, and all the audience are ready to forgive her. Another character that the audience would blame for the death of Eva Smith is Gerald Croft. Priestley initially describes Gerald as 'an attractive chap about thirty, rather too manly to be dandy but very much the easy well-bred young man-about-town.' He is a comfortable presence in the Birling family and gets on very well with Mr Birling, "I insist upon being one of the family now." We see that Mr Birling and Gerald both share the same interests and agree with each other on several issues as well. Mr Birling is also aware of the fact that Gerald will inherit his father's company, which will make him their social superior. He thinks that Sheila is lucky to find herself a rich man, "Look, you'd better ask Gerald for that ring you gave back to him, hadn't you?" Mr Birling defends Gerald from what he has done because he think that Gerald is special and if he is going to inherit his father's company then Mr Birling would have an advantage. From the beginning, we see Gerald as a character who is keeping secrets, "I was awfully busy at the works all that time."
I feel that they all played a part in her death which caused her to commit suicide by drinking disinfectant. Mr Birling started the whole process off by firing Eva from her job at the factory. He left her with no job and with no money. And later when she did find another job at Milwards, Sheila asked the manager of the store to fire Eva because she was jealous. This was because she saw Eva smirking at her when she was trying on a dress that she knew didn't suit her. After Eva was fired from Milwards, She met Gerald in the stalls bar at the Palace Music hall in Brumley. Gerald saw her and felt sorry for her because she looked sad and later when she told him her story, he decided to keep her as his mistress. But Eva was falling in love for Gerald and also realised that her time with Gerald will come to an end. By the end of the summer, Gerald broke up with Eva and went back to Sheila. Eva was then raped by Eric one night and was pregnant with his child. When she felt that Eric didn't love her she went to Mrs Birling to ask for help. She used the name Mrs Birling to hint that she was carrying Eric's child. But the actual Mrs Birling misunderstood her and thought that she was mocking her. She refused to help her saying that everything she was saying was a lie. Mrs Birling used her power and status to influence other members in the committee to refuse help to Eva as well. Mrs Birling was Eva's last hope but when she refused to help her, Eva had no choice but to commit suicide. I feel that each character could be blamed individually for her death and each of them played a big part. I think that all characters shared a cumulative part in her death and each character led her to a worse situation than she already was, and in the end she just committed suicide. ?? ?? ?? ?? Nidhia Babu 11C
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE J.B. Priestley section.
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