An inspector calls was written in 1945 and was set the week the titanic sunk in 1912. It was written by J.B Priestly, J.B Priestly was born in 1894. He wrote the play in 1945 and set it in 1912 because he wanted people to see what life was like when class divisions all looked down on each other and politics was a big role in society.
Edwardian Britain in 1912 was a lot different from today; there was a huge conflict between Capital versus Labour.
It was a time when prices rose, and wages couldn’t keep up with the pace. One million miners went on strike in the biggest industrial walk out of that time; this was a big threat to businessmen because work wasn’t being done. It was also a year when the titanic first set sailed; this was a symbol of Britain’s wealth, power and might. The titanic also sank the same year. There was a lot of class division the upper class looked down on the middle class and they all looked down on the lower class.
Women didn’t have power, as they couldn’t cote, so men thought they were the superior sex.
Women in 1912 were not bothered about politics and society, they were fonder of how much money they had and materialistic things. In ‘an inspector calls’ Sheila is one of these women, and all she cares about is what size of diamond Gerald her fiancï¿½ is going to get her. Most of the women Sheila knows are into fashion, just like any normal woman, but Sheila thinks she is better than the women in the lower class. We see this through her actions especially in Milwards, when Eva/Daisy was meant to of offended Sheila, but Sheila is a very jealous paranoid woman who thinks she is always the centre of attention. In Milwards Sheila thought Eva/Daisy was laughing at her, Sheila said
“If Eva/Daisy had been some miserable plain little creature, I don’t suppose I’d have done it” here we see Sheila is jealous because a dress she liked didn’t look nice on her, this is how pathetic Sheila can be.
J.B Priestly has put this scene in the play very carefully as this leads the life of Eva/Daisy to a whole host of events, this is the turning point in the play.
Throughout the play Sheila’s character changes dramatically, she starts off quite excited about her engagement to Gerald, then the inspector arrives and he makes her break down and tell the truth, she feels responsible for the suicide of Eva/Daisy. Sheila then tries to get her parents to tell the truth to stop them from getting into trouble with the inspector, but Sheila’s parents font realise that Sheila is only trying to stop them from getting into more trouble with the inspector.
J.B Priestly has made Sheila’s character different from all the other characters in the play, he is trying to use her as a way of making people realise what they were like and how their views affected people.
An inspector calls was written not just for personal amusement it has a reason, it’s written to teach people.
After world war two had ended, J.B Priestly decided he wanted to teach people that the war and fighting wouldn’t end unless people changed their ways. J.B Priestly has gone about this by introducing the character of Sheila Birling into his play as an example of how people can change their ways for the better, we see Sheila change her ways when she converts from being the selfish immature girl she was at the start of the play to a sensible mature young woman by the end of the play.
In the play Sheila and Eric seem to be the only ones influenced by what the inspector says. Their attitudes change by the end of the play and they come to realise what they take for granted.
Sheila comes across as a very snobby, spoilt young woman, we see her like this when she refers to her mother and father as “mummy and daddy” this phrase is used a lot through the play, as Sheila tends to say it when she wants something of her mother and father. Sheila mostly cares about fashion, she has never done a hard days work in her life and has just relied on her parent; she has never had to experience the life that Eva/Daisy has.
Sheila has quite a close relationship with her family, at the start of the play when they are having the engagement party they are all happy and there are no arguments between them, but then when the inspector arrives the Birling family begins to come apart in front of our eyes. By the end of the play Sheila is closer to Eric (her younger brother) as they decided to change their ways. Their parents, on the other hand, just laugh about it. As they believed that they had fooled the inspector, and therefore don’t need to change their ways.
Sheila and Gerald aren’t as close by the end of the play; this is because Sheila finds out the truth about Gerald’s relationship with Eva/Daisy and that he wasn’t faithful, Sheila says “you and I aren’t the same people who sat down to dinner here before. We’d have to start all over again, getting to know each other. Sheila says this as she begins to think that it would be better if they didn’t get married as she start all over again and she could begin to trust him again.
The inspector, has a huge affect on Sheila’s behaviour, she begins to go against what he parents say, and Sheila shows her parents up in front of the inspector as they are lying to the inspector. Her parents realise what Sheila is trying to do and they try and send her out the room, but she insists in staying.
When the inspector is questioning Mrs Birling, Sheila is in the room and she knows her mum is lying so she says to her mother “don’t build up a wall for yourself, because the inspector will just break it down”, these are powerful words coming from Sheila, but her mother is too proud to realise Sheila is right, and Mrs Birling continues to take no notice of Sheila and carries on lying to the inspector.
By the end of the play the inspector’s visit has had a huge effect on Sheila’s attitude, views on society and her relationship with her family, by influencing her views onto her other people and helping them realise what life was like for the people less well off than the Birlings. J.B. Priestly has made Sheila’s character special by reflecting her views and responsibilities on to her parents at the end of the play. Sheila’s attitude on society had changed by the end of the play; she realises to respect everyone less well off than her and she doesn’t want to take anything for granted anymore.
Sheila has made a big transformation, she has changed her views about society and she has learnt to respect people in the lower classes, she isn’t the jealous stuck up woman she was, and she has realised that she needed to change her ways. The inspector has taught Sheila that what she’s says affects people in such dramatic ways; Sheila is trying to get her parents to understand what she believes, by telling her parents her opinion and getting them to realise that she is right.