This essay will explain how each of he following characters in the play were involved in Eva Smith’s life and eventual suicide.
It will also investigate the social background to the play including the how the stage effects contribute to the overall message of the play. Arthur Birling is a self opinionated man in his middle fifties. He is well mannered but is narrow minded about some aspects of life. .
..I was an alderman and Lord Mayor for two years, and I’m still on the Bench..
.Eva smith was a worker at Birling’s firm, she was ‘a good worker too’. In fact, the foreman was so impressed with her hard work he had discussed promotion with Birling. But that August, when she had come back from her summer leave from work she decided to start up a strike with a few others, over low pay, they wanted a pay rise of about 2s 4d.
Birling abruptly refused and told ‘they could go and work somewhere else. It’s a free country…
‘ The strike ended after a week or two and Birling let most of them come back besides the ‘four or five ring leaders’ which included one Eva Smith….
she’d had a lot to say – far too much – so I had to let her go… This shows just how brutal the character of Birling can be.
Arthur Birling ruthlessly fired Eva Smith from her workplace, leaving her without a job and nowhere to go. That is how Birling contributed to the suicide of Eva Smith. Arthur Birlings involvement in the death of Eva Smith also highlights the social differences between men and women during the time that this book was written. It shows the disposable position of women at the time and how men are above them in the ranks of work.
Sheila is a rather exited young girl in her early twenties, she was content with life but one gets the feeling that she is living in a world of her own, away from the harsh truths of the real world. Next the late Eva Smith went to work in Milwards, a local which Sheila exclaims she visits regularly. ..
.Milwards! We go there – in fact, I was there this afternoon…
The unsteady, uncertain character of Sheila is expressed well when she panics when the inspector is questioning her and blurts out ‘…You knew all the time didn’t’ you?’.
One January when Eva Smith was working in Milwards, Sheila came in to ‘try something on’ which her mother and the shop assistant had been against. The very moment Sheila tried it on she knew that it did not ‘suit her at all’. Following this the shop assistant asked Eva Smith something about the dress, Eva had to hold it up against her. Eva Smith was a very pretty young girl ‘and it just suited her.
She was the right type for it…’When Sheila had to try it on again she looked at herself in the mirror and it still was not right, but then, to make things even worse, Sheila caught sight of ‘the girl’ smiling at the shop assistant, Miss Francis, ‘as if to say: “Doesn’t she look awful”‘ Sheila was furious and went to the manager straight away and had her fired on the spot.
This shows how class was a very powerful thing in the time the author wrote this book. The upper class Miss Birling was just jealous of how pretty Eva Smith was so she used her power to get her fired. Sheila, unlike most of the characters, openly admits her guilt, and is changed as a result of the inspectors questioning.I could help her now, I would.
.. That is how the character of Sheila Birling was involved in Eva Smith’s suicide. After Eva Smith was dismissed from her work at Milwards she decided to make a fresh start for herself and changed her name to Daisy Renton.
When the inspector told the room, Gerald looked startled. ‘What?’ he asked, the inspector went on to talk steadily to Gerald. ..
.I said she changed her name to Daisy Renton…
Gerald Croft is a good looking man, broad in stature and in his early thirties. In the play, just after she changed her name to Daisy Renton, Croft had an affair with her. Unlike Sheila, Gerald at first tries to deny ever knowing Eva Smith/Daisy Renton and it is Sheila who first persuades him to confess what he knows. Gerald first meets Daisy Renton, as she is now known, in the Palace Bar.