Examine the significance of Sheila Birling in An Inspector Calls Watch

emeliabe
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Can someone please mark this essay for me? Please give me a grade from 1-9 and a mark out of 20 thank you!

Sheila Birling is unlike any other character in the play An Inspector Calls; she is far more conscientious and more sensitive than any of the other characters, and she does not express her opinion as frequently or as forcefully as her parents. At the beginning of act one in An Inspector Calls, Sheila Birling is presented as ‘a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited’. This also describes how she acts for most of act one, until she is shown the picture of Eva Smith, and then ‘she gives a half-stifled sob’ which marks her first change in the novel. Her mood in act one switches from acting ‘gaily’ around Gerald to ‘almost break[ing] down, but just controls herself’, showing she is also the character most capable of change. For the writer of the play, J.B. Priestley, Sheila represents the belief that young people are open to change.

Priestley first portrays Sheila as naïve, as she seems very ‘playful’ and he refers to her being obsessed as she talks to Gerald. Although she is ‘half serious, half playful’ Priestley makes her seem cleverer as she has suspicions about Gerald when she mentions ‘last summer, when you never came near me’. This only becomes apparent to the audience when Gerald reveals that he had an affair with Eva Smith. Sheila makes an effort in act one to get her parents approval of Gerald. When she receives the ring from Gerald, she is immediately ‘excited’, and Priestley shows that in her speech with the use of dashes as she asks ‘Mummy – isn’t it a beauty?’. She shows appreciation of the ‘perfect’ ring to Gerald which shows she really is ‘pleased with life’ but almost obsessed by Gerald. As the play continues, Sheila matures, admiring Gerald's honesty, even though he cheated on her. She shows an assertive side by standing up to her mother and father and she also shows that she is insightful and intelligent - she can see where the Inspector's investigation is going and tries to warn the others.

Arthur Birling shows no signs of compassion for the death of the innocent girl and says arrogantly, "I care. I was almost certain for a knighthood in the next Honours List." This is what Birling is thinking about after all that has happened; therefore, this reveals how selfish and self-centred he is. However, Sheila's thoughts are completely the opposite of this, and she explains, "I behaved badly too. I know I did. I'm ashamed of it. But now you're beginning to pretend all over that nothing much has happened." This reveals that Sheila has strong emotions and feelings and cares that Eva Smith has died. She regrets the mistakes that she has made in the past and is trying to learn from them. It shows that she feels very guilty and responsible for the suicide and is a very sensitive and caring character. She has learnt her lesson but believes that her parents are acting very irresponsibly and unintelligently. Later, she says to her father, "You don't seem to have learnt anything." This is a very realistic statement, and the audience know that Arthur Birling hasn't learnt anything. Contrasting this, Sheila has changed and matured a lot from prior to the Inspector visit.


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 cannot accept any responsibility' with the auxiliary 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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meganlit
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Hey! I don't know about marking as I'm not a teacher, and I haven't even read the book, but I got two 9's in GCSE English and am about to start my English degree so I'll just give you a little advice if that's okay!

Firstly, I like your structure, it's neat and clear and has a good tone to it. However, I'd just work on adding in more terminology to give you a more sophisticated sound and to get extra marks. There's also not any context and it seems as if you just bolted on the analysis at the end when it should be woven throughout. In every paragraph I like to include my point, the writers intention, context, analysis and link it to a theme to just make your argument more rounded. I've edited your intro paragraph to show this and added in some terminology, hope this is useful!

Sheila Birling is unlike any other character in J. B. Priestley's 'An Inspector Calls'; she is far more conscientious and more sensitive than her counterparts, and she does not express her opinion as frequently or as forcefully as her parents, thus reinforcing the overarching theme of age. At the exposition of act one, Sheila Birling is presented as ‘a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited’. This description parallels her actions through the majority of this segment of the play, until she is shown the picture of Eva Smith, which in turn catalyses a 'half-stifled sob’ which marks her first change in the text as Priestley begins her character arc. Furthermore, the lexical choice of "half-stifled" may allude to how she is attempting to retain her old identity as the "excited" girl, "pleased with life," "half stifled" conveying the duality of her expression. In addition, Birling's mood in act one switches from acting ‘gaily’ around Gerald to ‘almost break[ing] down, but just controls herself’, showing she is an emotionally dichotomous character most capable of change. Contextually for the playwright, J.B. Priestley, Sheila is an allegorical representation of the belief that young people are open to change, notably the strongest theme of the play due to the societal uncertainty of the epoch following World War II.

I hope this is okay, I cut out a bit and added my own stuff in bold. Honestly I didn't change a lot, I just used fancy language which is very very important to examiners! I would have added more context, and I know I may have got a lot of stuff wrong haha but I have no idea what this book is even about. I just put a bit in to show that more context and analysis is needed, but aside from this it's a good essay that I really enjoyed reading! Let me know if you have any questions. I'll leave below a list of useful Literature terminology that I used in GCSE's just to help give that advanced vocab.

Exposition- the start
Denouement- the end
Dichotomous/Duality- two opposite forces/two sides of a persons personality (like Jekyll and Hyde)
Conversely- Different to/a different point (i.e Conversely to Ben, Emily preferred dogs)
Epoch- a certain point in time/the era
Allegory- the hidden underlying meaning of the text, usually social context, like animal farm by George Orwell is an allegory for the USSR.
Allude- suggests (i.e "red" alludes to danger, love, blood, etc.)

Sorry this was so long! Hope I helped!
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