The Birling’s are finding it hard to take any responsibility over the girl, Eva Smith’s death. The particular role Priestley has given Inspector Goole is to bring the family to understand they have a moral responsibility, if not a legal one but “they don’t seem to understand. ” Sheila is the only one who is taking in anything that the Inspector has brought up, he makes many repeated comments such as, “each of you helped to kill her,” “we are responsible for each other” yet only Sheila accepts liability for what has happened. The Inspector’s speech at the end recalls the actions of each individual, which brought Eva to her death.
By confronting each character the intention is to inflict guilt, the abrupt parting of the Inspector leaves the characters in confusion and the only person to answer their questions now are themselves. Here we realise their true characters and it seems to be only the young ones who take some blame. Sheila has been affected the most taking full responsibility, Eric although “squiffy” realises that “Sheila’s right,” so without her, Eric would not have realised his involvement which is why she is a vital influence to the others. Gerald is the only one who was willing to help her, he gave her a home and food.
But was this really in order to help, or for him to have some mistress on the side? Although, Gerald’s actions probably have the least contribution to Eva’s death, even if he was only using her as a mistress. But now the truth is out what will the consequences be with Sheila? It makes the audience think. Mr and Mrs Birling, the stubborn couple, feel no sympathy for the girl. Priestley uses these characters in conjunction with his aim. He created Mr Birling as a money-mad, selfish man who cares about nothing but his power and status.
This helps the audience see him and his capitalist views as crude. “Yes, yes. Horrid business but I don’t see why you should come here,” “I don’t see where I come into this. ” This is evidence of how he tries to dismiss the fact that his immoral actions have any connection with the death of Eva Smith. Whilst the Inspector is still questioning the suicide, Mr Birling constantly comments on his wealth and status, how he plays golf with the Chief of Police, how he used to be Mayor and how he has potential Knighthood.
As Preistley tries to build up Birling’s views within his character the audience become more and more against him. By turning the audience against these people Priestley can now make the aim clearer, that you shouldn’t support snobbish, complacent capitalists and “we are all responsible for each other. ” Priestley is trying to get across that if we are like the Birling’s then we need to change by being more considerate and caring towards others. Power, wealth and status does not mean that one has any more right and should receive more respect than another.
Sheila abused her power and is “ashamed of it”, Eric is also aware of his wrong doings. But what about Mr and Mrs Birling? They show no sign of interest in the message the Inspector is trying to get across. All they care about is what society will think of them now. As soon as Mr Birling hears that his son has stolen from him, his first reaction is “I must cover this up as soon as I can,” “most of this is bound to come out. There’ll be a public scandal. ” He is only worried about himself, not once has he realised that the Inspector is there for Eva and not him.