Examine the character of Sheila in "An Inspector Calls".

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An Inspector Calls

In the play An Inspector Calls, Sheila morphs her ideologies from capitalist views of her Arthur Birling to socialist views of the Inspector causing the audience to change their views on her from negative to positive.  Before the Inspector’s arrival Sheila is presented as materialistic and superficial proving herself as a part of the Birling family.  Moreover, Sheila is also presented as dependant on others, relying on her family and fiancé to make her decisions; this further integrates her into the family unit. The Birling’s are hated by the audience because they strongly disagree with Arthur Birling’s views and his capitalist mentality. This is because he claims that there will be no war and the Titanic is unsinkable. However, the audience, who are watching the play in 1945, have lived through the two horrific world wars and have witnessed the Titanic sink and hence they dislike him for his bold statements. The dramatist presents Sheila in such a negative prospect so there is a great contrast when Sheila moves away from the family unit towards the inspector causing the audience to have a liking towards her. During the presence of the Inspector Sheila is heavily influenced by the Inspector causing her to move away from her family and change her capitalist views to socialist views of the Inspector. Furthermore, most of the audience are socialists due to the elections in 1945 being won by the labour party by a majority vote and due to the fact that J B Priestley was a socialist meaning that his audience were also socialists, therefore, their ideologies are very similar to that of Sheila causing them to develop a liking for her. The dramatist presents Sheila as shifting towards the Inspector because the audience respect him due to their similar beliefs of socialism so when Sheila is presented as similar to him they develop a further liking towards her. After the Inspector has departed Sheila is shown to be much more independent and she is shown to have completely different beliefs to her family and much similar beliefs to the Inspector and the audience. The dramatist does this to show the contrast between Sheila at the beginning and the present. Also, the dramatist shows that the younger generation can adapt and that there is still hope for the future.

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Before the Inspector arrives Sheila is portrayed as materialistic and superficial, with a certain respect and likeness towards father, the capitalist Arthur Birling. This capitalistic behaviour is displayed when Sheila is presented with her engagement ring. Her reaction after receiving the ring is “I think it’s perfect. Now I really feel engaged” depicts her as a shallow person because the reason that she feels engaged should be the love shared between Gerald and herself, however, to her it is the expensive ring. This consumerist behaviour, which is a predominant feature of capitalism, shows her similarity with her father, Mr Birling, ...

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