“An Inspector Calls” by JB Priestley is a drama in which there is a highly emotional scene. The play is set in 1912 but was written in 1944. The play begins with the celebration of Sheila Birling and Gerald Croft’s engagement. Suddenly, it is interrupted by the arrival of Inspector Goole. He begins asking each family member questions about a girl named Eva Smith who had recently committed suicide. One by one, it is revealed that they all had some involvement with the girl and ultimately, contributed to the girl’s death.
The most emotional scene in the play is when Sheila Birling hears of the horrible death of Eva Smith. As the plot unfolds, she finds herself more involved with her death than previously thought. She then finds out that her fiancï¿½e also knew the girl, as he had spent the previous summer with her using her as his mistress. Sheila, normally a very excitable and complacent girl, immediately becomes upset when she hears of Eva’s death.Order now
“(Distressed) I went to the manager at Milwards and I told him that if they didn’t get rid of that girl, I’d never go near the place again and I’d persuade mother to close our account with them.” The stage directions instantly inform us that Sheila is anxious and distraught about what she has done. The long sentence also emphasises the panic and unease she feels as she explains herself. At this point it is clear to see that Sheila is justifying her actions and taking no responsibility. When Sheila begins to realise that she has done something wrong she takes responsibility and simultaneously, shows hurt and remorse.
“Yes, but it didn’t seem to be anything very terrible at the time. Do you understand? And if I could help her now, I would.” This quote conveys her pleading with her audience. The rhetorical question “Do you understand?” shows her sheer desperation for forgiveness. She understands she has treated the girl wrongly and wants the Inspector to see it from her point of view. Her regret is genuine. The dialogue shows us that only now, does she see how her behaviour was wrong. At this point, the audience can start to sympathise with Sheila and she did not realise her actions were going to lead to the eventual death of the girl and she is truly sorry.
After Sheila calms down, the Inspector goes on to say that Eva Smith then changed her name to Daisy Renton. Sheila’s fiancï¿½e Gerald startles “What?” From this response we learn that he too, knew the girl who killed herself. Sheila is angered to find out this news. “Well Gerald?… How did you come to know this girl – Eva Smith?… Daisy Renton then – it’s the same thing?”
Sheila’s interrogation of Gerald shows her despair and impatience to find out the truth. We already knew she had her suspicions and now she wants to get to the bottom of things. The irritable tone of this dialogue highlights the tension and emotion that Sheila is feeling in this scene. It shows how worried she is and is thinking the worst of her fiancï¿½e. As an audience, you would feel her angst and want to find out about Gerald’s involvement with the girl.
In conclusion, my analysis has shown that “An Inspector Calls” by JB Priestley is a play in which there is a highly emotional scene. Throughout the scene, we see an extremely distressed and upset Sheila in contrast to the rather unfeeling older members of the Birling family. This was purposely carried out by Priestley in order to get across his message that hope lies with the younger generation as they have more compassion for one another. He believes that hope for the future lies with the youth of society as they are more open to change and can make the world a more caring one.