The inspector arrives at the Birling's house in the evening, during a
family get-together to celebrate the engagement of their daughter to
Gerald Croft. The inspector questions every member of the family
individually, starting with Mr. Birling. Mr & Mrs Birling who do not
like the way the inspector is interrogating them, get angry with him,
and accuse him of being rude. However Sheila, Mr & Mrs Birling's
daughter, and Gerald are honest, and can face their mistakes. This is
one of the reasons why I like Sheila and Gerald, and dislike Mr & Mrs
Sheila is a young and pretty girl, who is honest and likes it when
other people are truthful. We know this because when the Inspector
shows her the photograph of Eva Smith, she says, "You knew it was me
all the time, didn't you?" Here she admits straightaway that she had a
part to play in the death of Eva Smith. Unlike Mr & Mrs Birling who
put up excuses every time the Inspector catches them out. As I have
said before she also likes it when other people are sincere. We know
this because when the Inspector is questioning Gerald about his affair
with Eva Smith he asks him if he was in love with her. At first Gerald
hesitates to come out with the truth but when he gets persuaded by
Sheila to tell the truth he says, "All right-I did for a time. Nearly
every man would have done." Sheila's reply to that is "That's probably
about the best thing you've said tonight. At least it's honest."
Sheila objects to her parents attempts to protect her from unpleasant
truths; I'm not a child, don't forget. I've a right to know.' At the
end of the play she feels that, whilst for a time it had seemed as
though her parents had learnt something ...
... middle of paper ...
..., because the girl was 'giving herself ridiculous
airs' and 'claiming elaborate fine feelings'. Mrs. Birling tries to
use her husband's social position to threaten the Inspector, she says
to him, 'You know of course that my husband was Lord Mayor only two
years ago and that he's still a magistrate,' the Inspector already
knows this and Mrs. Birling is confused when this tactic fails. When
the Inspector has left, Mrs. Birling forcefully criticises the others
for not standing firm against someone who is their social inferior.
She argues that if she had been present when the Inspector first
arrived, she would have dealt with his cheekiness severely. It is
difficult to decide whether, at the end of the play, Mrs. Birling has
learned to behave in a compassionate or caring way in the future.
Perhaps the Inspector's call has only served to harden her attitudes.
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