Can someone please evaluate my literature essay?Watch
What do you think is the importance of Eva Smith in An Inspector Calls and how does Priestley present her?
In An Inspector Calls, Eva Smith is a very important character as J.B. Priestley uses her as a symbol to help deliver his message in the play.
Eva Smith is used to symbolise the working class and the difference in power between the classes. This can be shown in the Inspectors final speech when he states “there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears and chance of happiness”. This clearly shows that the Inspectors investigation is not purely to help solve the mystery of one girls death, it is part of a bigger picture as Priestly wanted to show the audience that everyone has known or known of an “Eva Smith” in their own lives and should be treated equally no matter what class they are part of. This supports Priestley’s socialist views. Eva Smith is also shown as a symbol for the class system when Mrs Birling denies her help when she comes to her charity. Mrs Birling tells the inspector that Eva “was claiming elaborate fine feelings and scruples that were simply absurd in a girl in her position”, due to Mrs Birling’s self-absorbed character, she is completely unaware of the lower classes and doesn’t believe that they would be capable of behaving like herself when in fact, Eva has more morals than the Birling family as she refuses to marry Eric or take the stolen money. The fact that Priestley chose for Mrs Birling to refer to Eva as “a girl in her position” makes it sound as though she thinks that it’s Eva’s fault she is how she is where as it is actually Mrs Birling and the rest of the families fault, as Eva makes numerous attempts to improve her life but is blocked by the Birling family due to their power.
Eva Smith is also important as Priestly uses her to symbolise responsibility and that every action has a consequence on someone else’s life. In the inspectors final speech “we are members of one body. We are responsible for each other…if men will not learn this lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish” This final statement uses the technique of foreshadowing as he hints to a war happening and the story is set a little while before the onset of world war two. By using this technique, it adds importance to the statement as the audience knows the inspector is right. This is in contrast to when dramatic irony is used to present Mr Birling’s views as wrong after his comments about the unsinkable titanic and how he does not think a war will happen. Through the use of Eva Smith, the play shows how the younger generation are more accepting and responsible for their actions. Both Erica and Sheila begin to feel remorseful and accept responsibility, whereas Mr Birling and his wife are more worried about a public scandal and getting back to their lives without giving Eva Smith a second thought. Sheila even condemns her parents views, saying “but these girls aren’t cheap labour-they’re people”. This shows how Eva Smith’s story has affected Sheila as at the start of the play, Sheila clearly respects her parents, shown by her saying “I’m sorry, Daddy” and the stage directions state “she looks attentive”. Then in act 3, Sheila no longer has respect for her parents and stands up for them saying “(flaring up)…if you want to know, it’s you two who are being childish-trying not to face the facts”. Being polite to her parents is no longer important to her, instead she cares more about changing and trying to teach her parents that they are responsible. In this way, J.B. Priestley has used Eva to symbolise the generation difference and how this affects their views on responsibility.