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Write an essay on the development of a character from Priestly's play "An Inspector Calls" - Sheila Birling.

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Introduction

Miss Sheila Birling, a prominent character in Priestly's play "An Inspector Calls", undergoes many changes throughout the play. The audience and reader's perspective towards her also alters. Sheila changes before our eyes from a little girl into a strong young woman. In the beginning, Sheila is described to us as being "in her early twenties" and "very pleased with life". This gives us an impression that she is just a girl, who has not seen enough of the world yet and is very "young" in her thoughts. We see her as being very immature at first, addressing her parents as "Mummy and Daddy". She is clearly a "mummy's girl" who follows her parents instructions and orders For example, she meekly follows her mother to the drawing-room and leaves the men - including her husband-to-be. ...read more.

Middle

And I hate to think what he knows that we don't know yet." This behaviour is rather like that of a teenager throwing a tantrum, showing her growing realisation and maturity. When Gerald begins to confess, Sheila shows a rebellious streak. She refuses to be led away by her parents who want her to be protected. This is like what the average adolescent would do when they wish to cross new territory. Sheila begins to control herself a little more rationally during Gerald's interrogation Gerald "falls off" the high placing he was originally on as Sheila calls him by name rather than by some playful nickname. Sheila rebels against her parents even more as the play wears on. She accuses her mother directly when she says, "mother, I think it was cruel and vile." ...read more.

Conclusion

They think they are of the upper class, they can do no wrong and they have done nothing wrong. Sheila tries to make her parents see the light when she says, "it's you two who are being children, not trying to face the facts". Seeing Sheila stand up for herself and against her parents make her respect her much more. We put aside any emotions of hatred we may have for her due to her injustice to Eva Smith ion the grounds that she has learned something from this. Sheila is "desperately sorry" for what she has done. To err is to be human -everyone makes mistakes, but only the wise learn from them. In our eyes, Sheila grows up. At the start, she is a girl, who grows into an adolescent with an attitude. Finally, when at the end she is a strong woman, commanding respect from the audience, we realise how much "older" and wiser she is than her capitalist parents. Lillian Ong Page 1 of 2 ...read more.

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  1. How does the character of Sheila Birling, develop throughout this play?

    of the things that he says, is, Inspector: The girl's dead though. (Act 1, page 18) Sheila: What do you mean by saying that? You talk as if we were responsible. (Act 1, page 18) Sheila was annoyed that the Inspector was maybe accusing them of something.

  2. Trace the development of Sheila throughout the play, and discuss her function as a ...

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