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Why is Sheila important in an Inspector calls?
An Inspector calls is a didactic play written by J.B Priestley in 1946 to remind society about the importance of collective responsibility. Scholars say that Sheila is important for the play as Priestley can use her to draw a contrast with Eva Smith to highlight the unfairness of the treatment of women in varying classes.
When Sheila is informed about Eva's death and becomes noticeably upset, Birling exclaims to the Inspector 'Why the devil do you need to go upsetting the girl like that?" His language with connotations of hell emphasise his anger at the Inspector for allowing Sheila to find out about Eva Smith's suicide. However, when the Inspector informs Biriling about Eva's death, he 'impatiently' asks what the suicide has to do with him suggesting his dismissal and lack of care about Eva's death as he seems to have no emotional response like Sheila whose shock is conveyed through the exclamation mark in 'how horrible!'. Birling's contrasting responses to the two varying situation of the two girls highlights his hypocrisy. He feels that Sheila should not know details about Eva's death yet does not show much care when he disvovers Eva Smith's ordeal. From this it is suggested that Sheila was used by Priestley to offer as a contrast to exacerbate the mistreatment of working class women.
Moreover, in An Inspector Calls, there is a noticeable role reversal of the older and younger generations. Whilst, the older generation: Mr and Mrs Birling fail to see their involvement with Eva's death, the younger generation take a considerable amount of blame on themselves. Mr Birling explicitly states 'I can't accept any responsibility' with the auxillary verb 'cannot' suggesting he feels he does not have the power and emphasising his denial with contributing to Eva's death as well as him announcing in Act 3, the inspector being a phoney 'makes all the difference' - the verb 'all' highlighting how him acting immorally was not important nonetheless not confessing to a real inspector makes a universal difference. The younger generation represented by Sheila and Eric show a more emotional and responsible response. Sheila says 'I'm really responsible' showing how she has identified her wrong actions and is able to admit them in a mature manner. By building a contrast between the two responses, Priestley shows how the younger generation are more flexible and have the responsibility of adopting more socialist ideologies as well as being more open-minded compared to the older generation. Sheila is important in the play because her responses to Eva's ordeal and death highlights the importance of the younger generation in supporting socialism which was emerging during the time Priestley wrote this play.
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What is the importance of Sheila in an Inspector calls? watch
- Thread Starter
- 21-02-2018 18:13