How guilt is represented in 'An Inspector Calls' by JB Priestley

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How guilt is represented in ‘An Inspector Calls’

The theme of guilt was not represented until Inspector Goole arrives along with the news of Eva Smith’s/ Daisy Renton’s death, and from then on the guilt from each of the characters has been represented in many ways. Each main character seems to have played a part in the lead up to her death and the guilt, although not always shown massively, is still quite apparent and develops as the play goes on.

Mr Birling had employed Eva in one of his machine shops for over a year but when she asked for a very small rise in pay he refused and warned “if they didn’t like those rates, they could go and work elsewhere.” Because of this, Eva was thrown out of the workplace. He believed he was just looking after his business when it actually led her on a downward spiral eventually leading to her suicide. He didn’t understand or think that he had done anything wrong or he just didn’t want to admit it but during the play, the inspector made Mr Birling feel slightly guilty for his part in Eva’s death but this didn’t happen until the later stages of the play. Although he became a bit guilty he is unable to admit his responsibility for his part in Eva smith’s death.

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Probably the character that shows most guilt and sympathy is Sheila Birling. She is horrified by her own part in Eva's story. She feels full of guilt for her jealous actions and blames herself as "really responsible."

She mainly felt guilty because she got Eva sacked from her workplace (Milwards) when she “caught her smiling at the assistant” and she feels that that may have helped in the lead up to her death. She seems like she regrets what she did, unlike some of the other characters. A quote to show this would be “And if I could help ...

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