AT THE END OF MOST PLAY, SOME CHARACTERS HAVE CHANGED AND SOME HAVE NOT. DISCUSS TWO CHARACTERS: ONE WHO CHANGES, AND ONE WHO DOESN’T IN THE PLAY CALLED “AN INSPECTOR CALLS” – BY J. B. PRIESTLY The play ‘An Inspector Calls” by J. B Priestly, is set on an April evening in 1912. The play concerns the Birling family and Gerald Croft quietly celebrating over Gerald and (Mr.
Birling’s daughter) Sheila Birling’s engagement, when an Inspector arrives unexpectedly amidst their family celebration to enquire about a suicide of a young pregnant girl called, Eva Smith. Through questioning, the inspector uncovers that they all have some kind of an involvement to the young girl’s death. In the play, some characters are changed by the Inspector’s arrival and news. Some however, remain the same. One character who remains the same is Mrs Birling. In Act One, we are given a general impression of her; a well-mannered woman but one who knows her power of authority (being the wife of a well-off businessman and the chairwoman of Bromley Women’s Charitable Society).
In Act Two, Mrs. Birling introduces herself in a polite and respectable manner to the inspector (quite unlike the character that she progresses into) but he finds it hard to get information out of Mrs. Birling, this can be shown with the these quotes (taken from just after the Inspector has shown Mrs. Birling a photograph of Eva); (Inspector) “You recognise her?” (Mrs Birling) “No. Why should I?” Later in the play, the truth comes out that Mrs Birling had met the girl in the photo.
... in different classes. When Edna says an inspector has called, Birling has gone on the defensive. He ... to come out straight away but the inspector plays it cool buys some time, slows the ... asking questions and inquiring. The inspector uses Sheila against the other characters, by taking her side, ... but he doesn't care. Once the inspector starts interviewing Mrs Birling, she is also bring very stubborn ...
Sheila supported the Inspector when Mrs Birling wouldn’t give out any information about Eva and tried to persuade her mother to talk but Mrs Birling took her as being rude and insolent and showed that she doesn’t like being contradicted. When Mrs Birling does tell the Inspector about Eva coming to her committee for help, she showed no remorse for the young girl. She took Eva as being impertinent when Eva said that her name was ‘Mrs Birling’ and was prejudiced against her case. Therefore, she used her power and authority (as being the chairwoman) to influence the others on the committee to abandon her case.
Mrs Birling tried to reason with the Inspector about her judgments of Eva and with a clear conscience; she said she was,” … perfectly justified in advising my committee not to allow her claim for assistance.” (This also shows how formally she spoke to Inspector as if try to level out his position in society compared to hers. ) Mrs. Birling was altogether very blunt towards the whole incident and tried to take the blame away from herself by blaming first Eva for her own death and then even Mr Birling for starting it all.
She never tried to take responsibility for her actions but instead tried to push them onto someone else and at no point did she accept any blame on herself. Mrs Birling was also a little stereotypical because she never tried to believe in her families’ imperfections and for example, she refused to believe that Eric was an alcoholic and at times drank excessively. Mrs Birling tried to stand up to the Inspector at one point in her interrogation and this shows that she is a strong character but was so narrow minded that she herself, in the end, was led to blaming her own son for Eva’s death without knowing. By the end of the play, Mrs Birling’s character hasn’t changed at all. She remains the uptight and narrow-minded woman that she was in the beginning through until the end.
In contrast to Mrs Birling, a character who does change in the play is Sheila Birling. In Act One she seems like an attractive character, but a little self centred as it seemed that she was enjoying the attention that her engagement was bringing to her. She seemed to be genuinely in love with Gerald and was quite affectionate towards him. She also seemed quite up-to-date with her language by using words like “squiffy.” When Sheila finds out about Gerald’s affair, she takes it in decently and seems more mature than her parents. She seemed to value his honesty and was content that Gerald was finally telling her the truth about what he did last summer. The changing point in Sheila’s character is when she finds out about Eva’s death and how she died.
... side to be better than the other. The Inspector against Birling, Eva Smith against Sybil Birling, Sheila and Eric at the end of the play ... but little sense! If we contrast the character of Birling with that of the Inspector, we can see Priestly's aims showing. The ... total metamorphoses of character. The older generation however don't see that they have done anything wrong. Mr and Mrs Birling are all ...
Sheila shows her disbelief in Act One.” Oh, how horrible!” This is the changing point for Sheila because she knows that she played a part in Eva’s death. She also starts feeling sorry for Eva as he made her life hell. After this, she wants to help Eva as shown in Act One.” And if I could help her now, I would.” This shows that she is not angry or jealous with Eva but she wants to help her. Because she is more sensitive character than the others are, Sheila was the first to realise what the inspector was driving at in his interviews with herself and the other characters. She sees through the other characters attempts to conceal the truth and is also aware that the inspector knows all about them and is the first to wonder whom the inspector really is. During the play Sheila objects to her parent’s attempts to protect her from unpleasant truths, “I’m not a child, don’t forget I have a right to know.” She tells them.
In the same way, both Sheila and Mrs Birling use their social position to contribute greatly to Eva’s downfall. They were given a small obstruction that happened to be Eva. They broke down the obstruction without any concern or thought. It seems that the way they dealt with the situations they were in was similar, but their thoughts and regrets afterwards turned out to be very different. Sheila learned to admit to the shameful behaviour and to take responsibility for her actions. She faced up to unpleasant truths about Gerald and her family.
She was the only person in the family who accepted that she was partly responsible and admitted that she had done wrong. When Sheila helps persuade her mother to talk to the Inspector, it shows us that Sheila has a strong sense of right and wrong. Even after the inspector has left and the Birling have discovered that the Inspector is a fake, Sheila still believes that the Inspector taught the family a very good lesson. The inspector made a lasting impression on Sheila. In presenting the characters, J. B.
... start it (rather savagely) to Birling." The Inspectors role in the play is not simply to confront each character with the truth, but to ... her selfishness, Gerald has his affair revealed in front of Sheila, Mrs Birling has her illusions about the respectability of her family ... the Birlings that they are responsible for the death of Eva Smith, at points, gaining their respect, and on the other ...
Priestly develops the theme of justice and responsibility. The Inspector made Sheila respect him and almost believe in the same values as he did such as truth and responsibility. The Inspectors values can be seen in his last speech that he makes.” We are all members of one body, we are responsible for each other.” The Inspector could be seen as a collective mass of conscience as throughout the play, the Inspector tries to make the characters admit their guilt and involvement in Eva’s death and tries to change the characters for the better. He teaches them the importance of respecting other people’s stature in society and not taking it for granted. But of course, he doesn’t wholly succeed because some characters don’t realise that whether a girl had been killed or not, the main reason for the Inspector ‘s visit was for them to realise that they have to take responsibility for their actions, whether you are rich or poor. Having studied the play and the characters I feel that the characters who changed during the course of this play were the one’s who took on the responsibility of what they had done.
And the characters who did not change were the one’s who pushed the responsibility onto someone else. Therefore, Gerald, Sheila and Eric came out to be more ‘humane’ characters (as even Gerald showed some signs of changing) while Mr Birling and Mrs Birling seemed to be more corrupt. However, this could also mean that some characters are easily influenced and some aren’t and this could be seen as a good or a bad thing. I thought that this play was very enjoyable. It showed us what the Birling family’s idea of society was with what had happened to Eva Smith. It was interesting how it took only a few moments for the character of Sheila Birling to change when, if the Inspector hadn’t come, she might not have realised the consequences of what she had done.
Throughout Hedda Gabler my perception of Hedda was influenced by many of the theatre languages. From the costumes she wore, the props she used, and the lighting that illuminated the stage, all of the languages had an enormous effect on my perception of Hedda. The first language that influenced my perception of her character was her costumes. The theatre language that caught my eye first was the ...
I thought that the role of the Inspector was quite interesting too and arguments about who he might actually be as near the end of the play it is clear to us that he is not real. What I liked about the play was the fact that even though the play seemed quite simple, it had more to it than it seemed. For example, the notion of the family falling into some kind of a time trap’ where time had stopped but the Birling family was still carrying on, hence the inspector coming, leaving strangely and the phone call at the end when the Birling family felt that everything had returned to normal. The phone call created excitement and tension and gave the play a twist.