hey guys, could you estimate my grade for this An Inspector Calls essay?Watch
How and why does Sheila change in An Inspector Calls?
Priestley created An Inspector calls as a political diatribe, describing a wealthy family and the members of it as a microcosm of Edwardian society. For example, we have Birling to represent the traditional, self-proclaimed omniscient business man – shown with dramatic irony. Mrs Birling, like Mr Birling showing traditional values but in a more natural and less pretentious manner. Priestley tries very little to make these characters change because he knows they likely can’t, however he does try to make them understand the consequences of their actions. This leaves Eric and Sheila; the future generation, as Priestley’s focus – these are the malleable, influential, youth that would further his anti-capitalist views and lead to a more sympathetic society. Sheila begins the play as a naïve and childish young lady, who has experienced very little suffering in her life, she is easily pushed around and does as she is told without taking a thought to the morals of her quite possibly detrimental actions. However, by the end of the play she shows that she is insightful, incessantly assertive and intelligent. Sheila foreshadows the Inspectors vast knowledge of the situation and attempts to warn her family, although she isn’t listened to – this is Priestley noting on the misogyny of Edwardian society.
In the beginning of the play, Sheila is presented to the audience as a naïve privileged girl with little independence. This is shown through her tone when Gerald presents her with an engagement ring, ‘Look mummy – isn’t it a beauty’. Now, if we consider the fact that Sheila is a girl in her mid-twenties, the use of the word ‘mummy’ and the later use of ‘daddy’ (‘I’m sorry daddy actually I was listening’) we can see that Priestley clearly wants to emphasise how childish Sheila really is. Sheila behaves almost as a servant to her parents; she is quick to apologise and never disagrees with them. This is because she holds no real value in her family like Eric does, because he is a man, he can inherit the business, but Sheila is little more than a liability to her parents, so she is used to behaving in a submissive manner so as to not upset them.
However, throughout the evening, Sheila’s character begins to evolve when she criticises Mr Birling’s way of running his business, ‘but these girls aren’t cheap labour – they’re people’ this shows her natural sense of morality and empathy, although being raised in a family which was vacant of any such things. In 1912, women’s views on business matters were thought to be irrelevant, as earlier in the play where ‘she (Mrs Birling) and Sheila go out’ so Mr Birling could speak to the men alone. Sheila also becomes more assertive as the play goes on – ‘I tell you – whoever that inspector was, it was anything but a joke.’. We can see that she opposes her family once more, saying ‘I tell you’ displays her alteration in tone; being less childish and more assertive.
By the end of the play, we see that Sheila is becoming more observant than her family. ’Yes, of course it is. That's what I meant when I talked about building up a wall that's sure to be knocked flat. It makes it all harder to bear.’ – Sheila uses the metaphor of a wall that the inspector will knock down to show her insightful understanding of his methods. She knows that if they try to keep anything from him, it will make things worse. Her family does not realise this as far as she does. This is because her family are used to being the ones who know the most, so they assume that they know more than the inspector, putting Sheila in a position of power because she considers the thoughts of the inspector, showing a change to her actions with Eva.
Ultimately, Priestley uses Sheila to show the most change as she represents the people of least power – as a microcosm in her family of course. But the change shows that if she can gain a force then even the lowest people in society who have been gripped by Capitalism, can escape It if society becomes more socialist, promoting social responsibility and empathy for one another – showing that the play is a political diatribe meant to guilt the rich who have benefitted off the suffering of others, and he warns with Mr Birlings dramatic irony, that if there is no change in society it will lead to horrors of war, despair and social inequality.
I can't necessarily give you a grade, because I'm not a GCSE examiner (I'm doing Y13 English Literature), but be sure that you'll be going for top marks. Just cut the intro and beef up the points.