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    Dramatic Significance Essay (962 words)

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    I think that ‘We hardly ever told him anything he didn’t know. Did you notice that?’ could be said slowly and wonderingly, as the stage direction suggests, as Sheila has just pointed out something very important. She’s come to understand the Inspector, and she wants all of the family to hear what she has to say. The last part is a rhetorical question, so it could be said with the raise of your voice at the end, and by emphasising the ‘you’.

    I believe that the line ‘He was – frightening’ could be said in a slightly scared tone, as Sheila thinks back to how the Inspector made her feel, and she could shiver to show how badly she feels about the past few hours. ‘He was’ could be said thoughtfully, and followed by a pause, to possibly show that Sheila is trying to think of a word to describe the Inspector. I feel that the ‘frightening’ could be emphasised, as it the most important idea of the speech.

    I think that the line ‘The worst part is. But you’re forgetting one thing I still can’t forget. Everything we said had happened. If it didn’t end tragically, then that’s lucky for us. But it might have done.’ could be said slightly angrily and regretfully. She is enraged by her parents’ attitude to what happened – they don’t care about what they did to Eva Smith, as soon as they find out that the Inspector wasn’t a real inspector. The last sentence is the most important, I believe, so it could be said with a pause before it, in an almost prophetic tone, appealing to their conscience, to try to make her parents feel guilty about what they have done. I think that the ‘I’, ‘everything’, ‘lucky’ and ‘might’ could be emphasised, to make her parents think about what she is saying, and make them feel ashamed of their actions.

    I feel that ‘So nothing really happened. So there’s nothing to be sorry for, nothing to learn. We can all go on behaving just like we did,’ could be said very sarcastically and bitterly, especially the last sentence. Sheila is angry with her parents because of their attitude to what they have done, and she doesn’t believe a word of what she is saying. She doesn’t think that there was nothing to be sorry for, and that they can go on behaving just like they did – it would be wrong.

    I think that her next two lines could be said angrily to her parents. She is ashamed of them for how they have handled the whole situation, particularly after they realised that the Inspector wasn’t a real inspector. In the first speech, I believe that ‘anything’, ‘joke’, ‘then’, ‘learn’, ‘stopped’ and ‘same’ could be emphasised, to show Sheila’s anger further. In the second speech, I feel that ‘no’, ‘I’, ‘remember’, ‘looked’, ‘feel’, ‘frightens’, ‘talk’, ‘can’t’ and ‘any’ could be emphasised.

    This would be to show that she is ashamed of her parents and try to show them that they are behaving wrong. Also it would hopefully help them remember how the Inspector made them feel, and what they thought when they believed they were responsible for a girl committing suicide, instead of discovering that it was a hoax. ‘Fire, blood and anguish’ could be emphasised too, because she is repeating what the Inspector said. I think that this is an important idea of Priestley’s, and it is used to make Sheila’s parents remember what the Inspector said and how he made them feel, in the hope that they will change their attitudes and feel guilty for what they have done.

    Stage directions such as ‘bitterly’ and ‘flaring up’, throughout this Act show that Sheila is very angry and ashamed of her parents. She is deeply sorry for what she has done, even if the Inspector wasn’t really an inspector and there was no Eva Smith. Her stage directions are only described as ‘eagerly’ when she is agreeing with Eric about how the Inspector made her feel, maybe in the hope that it will change her parents’ attitudes to the whole situation. Sheila has learnt from the experience, but her parents have not and she is very angry about it. Sheila is the character telling the audience how people should behave if they had done any of the things that the Birling family did – she is a character of dramatic significance.

    I think that the most important things in Act One to remember, are the fact that Sheila is obviously spoilt, materialistic, playful and innocent, because she has been shielded from what really goes on in the world. In Act Two, the most important points to remember about Sheila are that she is beginning to understand the whole situation – how Eric was involved with Eva and questioning whether the Inspector is actually a proper police inspector. In addition we see how ashamed she feels about how her family are handling their involvement with Eva and how guilty she feels about firing Eva from Milwards.

    In Act Three, I believe that remembering how passionately Sheila feels about it not mattering whether the Inspector was real, and Eva did not really commit suicide is important. She is disappointed with her parents at how lightly they are taking the situation and constantly shows this. She has completely changed and matured from how she was at the beginning of the play. I hope that these notes have helped you understand the character better, and have given you tips on how to play Sheila Birling. I trust that you will come to the first rehearsal well prepared to act the part and hope that you enjoy the experience of performing in this play.

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    Dramatic Significance Essay (962 words). (2017, Nov 16). Retrieved from

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