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How Does Priestley Present the Change in Sheila During the Course of the Play an Inspector Calls? How Do You Think This Change Reflects Some of Priestley’s Ideas?

  • Date Submitted: 09/30/2012 06:58 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.2 
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The play ‘An Inspector Calls’ was set in 1912 before the world war but was written in 1945. The play was set in this period because society was set into classes that were very noticeable. The main reason for Priestley writing this play was so his socialist views and concerns could be seen and recognised. The play is a tale morality and tells us how we should take care of each other.

An important character in the play is Sheila Birling. Through the play we see how Sheila changes as a person and how she reacts to different things. Her reactions and how she changes is quite different from some of the other characters.

Before the play starts Priestley tells us in the stage directions that ‘Sheila is a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited’. This is where we start developing an image of Sheila and what kind of a character Sheila is. We also know that the Birlings are celebrating Sheila’s engagement to Gerald Croft. However quite early in the play we get a hint that there may be a disagreement in the relationship. This becomes apparent when Gerald says ‘And I’ve told you’. By Gerald saying ‘and’ we know that they have most likely discussed this issue a few times.

As the play progresses we see how the character of Sheila develops. When the Inspector arrives and Shelia hears the news of Eva Smith’s death her immediate reaction is ‘Oh – how horrible!’ This shows us that she does care about others, and this is also apparent in the line ‘But these girls aren’t cheap labour – they're people’.   We find out later in the play how she is also truthful. Even though her parents are reluctant to accept the fact that Eric has a drinking problem she will tell them clearly ‘He’s been steadily drinking too much for the last two years’.

As Sheila learns about her involvement in Eva Smith’s death she changes as a character. We see different sides to her and see how she is open to her mistakes and willing to change. This is why...


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