The Impact of Character Development of Shirley and Eric Birling in Inspector Calls

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I think that Shelia is the most that changes in the course of the play. She turns from being the stereotypical child and does as her parents say, to become more independent. It centres on the family headed by Arthur Birling who is a wealthy factory owner. They are celebrating happily Shelia’s engagement to Gerald Croft. The mood changes when Inspector Goole arrives and informs the family about the suicide of young women named Eva Smith. Shelia Birling is the daughter of Mr Birling and is “a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited”, with her engagement with Gerald Croft. Her hopes and plans for the future are of have a happy married life with her husband to be.

Shelia used her authority to get Eva Smith fired and when she hears the news that Eva Smith has killed herself she is devastated. She looks at a photograph of Eva Smith and recognises it with a little cry, gives a half stifled sob, and then run’s out. Then starts to see things in a different perspective to try and understand the situation and her involvement in it. She regrets what she has done and promises not to do it again. At this point the audience sees Shelia as a very honest individual and admits that she was jealous and that her pride was insulted.

Describe how Priestly creates and maintains tension throughout the play. Priestly uses lighting to create and maintain tension throughout the play for example, he writes ‘lightening should be pink and intimate for example, the words ‘pink & intimate’ means in the room it is calm and positive. This is because they are celebrating Gerald and Shelia’s wedding proposal but that mood is shattered for example the words ‘brighter’ and harder’ suggest danger and makes things more tough. It’s like a spotlight and is harsh when searching which makes the audience feel pressured to answer the questions. This emphasis the idea of police and makes the family look and feel like criminals.

Priestly also uses setting to create tension, for example we are told the Birlings are living in a ‘fairly large suburban house’ which is however ’not cosy’ creates tension by suggesting that the family may live in big house and they are not happy. Also when Priestly writes ‘heavily comfortable’ this shows tension because it might be suggesting that the house is too comfortable ”heavily” which could suggest that there house is comfortable because it’s such a big house it could make the audience feel like intruded.

Also the inspector states that ‘young women died’ the writer is setting up the murder mystery for the audience and could make the audience feel quite scared and shocked this creates tension. Birling was saying be selfish but Priestly disagrees with the attitudes he gives to Birling and the inspector says ‘care for one another’ and priestly agrees with the ideas of the inspector.

For which character in the play do you have the least sympathy> Give reasons for what you say. I have no sympathy for Mr & Mrs Birling because of their foolish and close-minded way they act. They are a fault as much as anyone else. They refuse to any responsibility and they do not learn the extremely important lesson to treat everyone with respect regardless of their background. Which character do you think is most to blame for Eva Smith’s death? Give reasons for what you say. Mr Birling is quite selfish, and it reflects on his children and his wife has brought them up. Mrs Birling is also held responsible for the death of Eva Smith in various ways and is selfish as she won’t accept any blame for it and once again the same as Mr BIrling. He is taking the two generations and differentiating them according to show responsibilities are taken.

Mrs Birling is also plays vital part in Eva’s death because she was selfish and shows no concern or consideration to Eva at the commission committees meeting. She also has the inability to put herself in other’s shoes. She was not supportive to pregnant, unmarried women. Instead she was incentive and did not approve of Eva. She says, she makes assumptions quickly, and does not want be blamed for anything. She could have saved Eva and helped her, but she was not the supportive sort of person to sympathise and understand other classes, such as the lower class. Gerald Croft plays a young man, caring, polite man in the play, and he is engaged to Shelia BIrling and contributed to death of Eva smith in a different way. His personality was helpful to a certain extent and he knew Eva Smith as being named Daisy Renton.

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Inspector Goole says: ‘We are all responsible for each other’. How dose J.B. Priestley present this theme in ‘An Inspector Calls’? Priestly when the inspector exits and writes ‘if we will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire blood and anguish’ the inspector is to teach people that ‘we are all responsible for each other’. When the inspector says that people who do not learn will be taught in ‘fire blood and anguish’ it shows that the inspector is exaggerating and makes the family worry before he leaves, therefore priestly is leaving his audience with something to think about. This suggests that if we do not care for one another we will be taught to in hell or through our deaths. This connects to the way of the main message of the play by priestly saying that this will happen to us if we do not care about each other.

To what extent is it possible to feel sympathy for Eric Birling? Eric starts off as a rebellious character, with little concepts of morality and lives to waste his time. Priestly shows us how a character can change and learn their lesson by the consequences of their actions. We feel sympathy for Eric because he was not a bad person and come good in the end. The play is like growing up in his life and in a similar way for Shelia. Eric represent this socialist spirit by being fully aware of his responsibility towards others and his obligations towards society for example, Eric’s foolishness and immaturity get him into trouble in the first place, though we eventually are left with an image of him that, overall, is positive due to him seeing the error of his ways and we are therefore sympathetic towards his plight. We understand the remorse and regret that he now genuinely feels, as opposed to his parents who just regret begin caught. They do not regret their actions as they don’t appear to feel they have done anything wrong, as shown by the fact they were ready to celebrate when they thought the inspector was not real.

Show how J.B. Priestley keeps the interest of the audience throughout An Inspector Calls. J.B. Priestly have shown they talk to the audience about the suicide that happened during the day. For example, each member of the family and Mr Croft are interrogated by the Inspector. Everyone at the party turns out to have a shameful secret linking them with Eva’s death for example, in September 1910 Eva was sacked by Birling & Co, and in December 1910 Eva was employed by Milwards and Late in January Eva sacked by Sheila Birling. This disruption to the family celebration unsettles Eric who appears ‘uneasy’. The description of the Inspector is lengthily but still leaves room for interpretation. The opening repeats the suggestion that Shelia should seem ‘pleased with life’ while the whole group are ‘pleased with themselves’. This is to understand Priestley’s message who felt they had earned their success and only needed to be responsible for themselves.

Each member of the Birling family and Gerald Croft is guilty of abusing their position of power. Who would you consider most guilty of abusing his or her power, and why? Mr Birling still cannot see how he has anything to do with Eva’s death. Eva was sacked from the factory and the inspector tells the family that a girl died in the infirmary two hours ago. The inspector reveals the girl’s name as Eva Smith and she used to work in Mr Birling’s factory. Mr Birling had Eva sacked as she was the ringleader of a group of workers who has asked for higher pay. Mrs Sybil Birling is Arthur Birlings wife and the right from the opening of the play she is cold hearted and snobbish despite being a prominent member of local women’s charity. Throughout the dinner she tells Shelia and Eric off for things she considers impolite whilst ignorantly turning a blind eye to their son. It is clear that despite Eric being old enough o drink and Shelia getting married, she sees them both as children, not as young man and women.

There is more hope for the younger Birlings to mend their ways and both Eric and Shelia show remorse for their actions and there is evidence of their sympathy for Eva and the general concerns of the poorly-paid factory workers. The play continues and during the visit the most to blame for her death was not found out. Shelia feels socially responsible and is shocked when she learns that she has a part to play in Eva’s death. “All right Geralds, you needn’t look at me like that. At least I’m trying to tell the truth. I expect you’ve done things you’re ashamed of too”. Shelia takes responsibility for the actions and tells the truth and Gerald is being judged of her even he has not yet taken responsibility for his own actions. Shelia and Eric are important in the play as J.B Priestly introduces them to be coming from a trouble free, spoiled and wealthy family. They are open to new ideas as improvements and when Eric and Sheila express their sympathy for the strikers. Eric disagrees with being a business man and can only think of money and does not care about others emotions and worries.

Eric Birling’s is a successful businessman and factory owner and celebrating the engagement of his daughter Sheila to Gerald Croft, son of his business rival and social superior. He is in his early twenties, not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive and as a younger character and in a lower status downstage position. Shelia is a pretty girl in her early twenties very pleased with life and rather excited. Eric sands up to his parents when it becomes clear that they will not take responsibility. Eric sees that his parents are trying to ‘pretend’ that nothing happened when it is suggested that the Inspector was not real.

Shelia, like Eric, allows Priestly to show his opinion on youth. He felts that there was hope in the young people of the war. He saw them as the ones who would help them solve the problems the country had with class, gender and social responsibility. This is seen in how Shelia is affected by Eva’ death, she accepts responsibility straightaway. This is not the case with the older characters, Mt BIrling and Mrs Birling and even Gerald do not accept responsibility and we do not get the impression that they will change. Age is an important in An Inspector Calls. Priestly uses it to show how he believed that there was hope in the younger generation’s ability to learn and change. The older characters opinions ad behaviours are fixed. Mr Birling refuses to learn and Mrs Birling cannot see the obvious about herself and her children. Eric and Shelia however are younger and they accept their mistakes and offer the chance for a brighter future.

Eric sands up to his parents when it becomes clear that they will not take responsibility. Eric sees that his parents are trying to ‘pretend’ that nothing has happened when it is suggested that the inspector was not real. He and Shelia, the younger characters, still feel responsible. J.B Priestly mainly uses the characters in the play to present his views, especially Mr and Mrs Birlings, to present his ideas about class and society. J.B Priestly gives us an idea that the Birlings are upper class and are always referring to the lower class female factory workers such as Eva Smith as ‘girls of that class’. J.B Priestly describes the Birling’s house as ‘fairly large suburban house’ with ‘good solid furniture of the period’, and are upper-middle class and they have money and have servants such as maid and a cook. J.B Preistly wants to give us an idea that the Birlings are upper class both in possessions and attitudes.

For example, describe all furniture as “substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike”. Priestley indicates that the lighting should be “pink and intimate”. The lighting may suggest romance and foreshadow the engagement party which is to follow. It may also serve a symbolic or thematic function, implying the ‘rose-tinted’ view by the Birlings at the start of the play. The play has developed from medieval ideas and where a character experiences a spiritual journey for example, Sheila undertakes such a conversion and is one of the characters who may change her behaviour in the future. The play is a modern version and mystery plays were dreams are designed to educate the public about the consequences of pursuing various earthly vices, as well as highlighting the virtues that would aid moral redemption.

Gerald Croft is described as an ‘attractive chap’ with the qualifying statement that he is ‘rather too manly to be a daddy’, and in the play he is about to get married. He is the son of Lord and Lady Croft and that if Gerald is too manly to be dandy, he contrasts to Eric Birling, who may be interested in superficial appearances and whose leisure activities will have grave consequences. This would be reinforced by the Eric as ‘half shy, half assertive’, as he fights to establish himself as an adult. Gerald does not show remorse for his actions and as an aristocratic male in 1912, he expects to have the freedom of many experiences as an unmarried man yet looks to his fiancé for support and protection. Despite his age, he is seen as less emotionally mature.

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