The role of Eva Smith in Inspector Calls is crucial to the development of the themes of the play. These themes are lies, love, pride, status, responsibility and Eva is crucial to the development of all these themes. She is never seen in this play but the whole play is set around her and she is the main character in all the acts. Eva represents the lower class and tries to bring about awareness to all class that watch the play. This play also deals with many issues which were very relevant then and some of them are still relevant today. This is why the play is still watched and loved today.
The first of the Birlings Eva Smith came across was the arrogant capitalist Mr Birling who was her boss while she worked at his ‘penny-pinching’ factory, in sub-standard conditions. She would have worked on machines most of the day. The conditions were some of the most dangerous around at the time. There were very strict rules which every person had to keep by. If they didn’t keep by these stringent rules then they would be fined and the money would have came out of their modest wages. They could get fined for things that today would be considered petty. Some of these things where leaving there work area dirty laughing and talking, so as you can see it was very strict. This also shows how heart less the employers where and all they were bothered about was making money they didn’t care about the people that worked for them one little bit.
This then all got to Eva Smith and her working colleagues especially the low wages and the poor working conditions. They then decide that something had to be done about it and the best way to prove their point was to call a strike. Their demand from this strike was a increase in their wages from 22/-6d to 25/-. This was helped by trade unions that brought about awareness about working conditions. Previously Eva had been getting on with her job very well it was only after she came back from her holiday she wanted better rates. Eva had actually been recommend for promotion, and her relationship with Mr Birling had been fine before this point but after that everything went down hill for her at Birlings
This strike went on for a couple of weeks but not having any money started hitting the girls, but still the greedy Mr Birling who feels that every penny in his pocket counts didn’t move on the girls demands one little bit. Mr Birling said ‘they where getting paid neither more nor less than is paid generally in our industry.’ Slowly some of the went back but Eva and many of her friends stayed and kept protesting. Mr Birling still kept strong and it paid off because the following week most of the girls went back to work keeping their usual rates. But for Eva and a couple of her work friends who had been the ringleaders of the strike they where given the sack. At the end of the day the strike on the whole for the complete work force was rather pointless as they lost a lot of money and for some of them they got the sack. But for Eva this worked out to her convenience, as we know.
The strike and the way Mr Birling handles it just shows what type of character he is. His main and only concern throughout the strike is money and this just shows how hard-hearted he is. But Mr Birlings reaction and the way he treated the women was just the same as any businessman in those days. Women didn’t have a high place in society and so that in turn meant that they where always given the minuimin and treated with less respect than a man would. Mrs Birling sum’s up the role of woman perfectly ‘ when you are married you will realise that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend nearly all their time and energy on their business. You will have to get used to that’. Eva Smith and her friends tried to challenge this unwritten society rule, as we know they were unsuccessful.
The main way in which Mr Birling defends himself he is by saying that you all earn the same ‘we where paying the usual rates,’ and get treated the same as any other person in any other company. But as we know this was unfair because women were given less respect in those days. I think the girls got what they always where going to get and that was no change. I don’t think this is fair but that was the way it was in those days and the way it was going to be for a while afterwards. Mr Birling also tries to defend himself by saying that if he had given the girls the money then it would have set a precedent for other workers in other companies to do the same. So he was doing company bosses a big favour.
After working in Birlings and getting the sack Eva moved on to Milwords, a ‘well respected’ shop. Getting this job was a ‘wonderful struck of luck,’ and was a change for her which she enjoyed. In this job she wasn’t stuck to a chair all day working in dangerous conditions she had freedom to move and this is what she enjoyed. But one of the problems surrounding the job was there was no trade union and this was really going to affect her later on. One of the biggest differences in the job was that she was out on the shop front speaking to customers. This put pressure on her because she always had to be careful of what she said and did because the customer is always right, one little slip up could cost her and that is exactly what happened to Eva. The very naï¿½ve Sheila played a big role in the dismissal of Eva.
She complained to the manager of Milwords as she had caught Eva laughing at her while she was trying an item of clothing on the in the shop. Eva was later dismissed from her job after Sheila had complained to the manager. This dismissal was the last one she was to have before she died and the job at Milwords was her last steady job. This sacking left Eva very down hearted. She never thought she had done anything wrong and was even more down hearted by the fact that she enjoyed the job. If she had a trade union then she could had argued the case of an unfair dismissal but she didn’t, as shop workers didn’t have trade unions while she was working there. If something like that happen at Birlings then she could have challenged for an unfair dismissal as you had a trade union at factories.