Priestly has him to react this because Birling may well be confronted by a real inspector who is then going to tell him exactly the same, in which case he will have to listen. This suggests Birling himself feels he is going to be found out in which case he is bound to be ‘panic stricken’. Gerald initially tries to cover up his role in Eva’s death. He does this because he was not around a lot in the summer, which Sheila states in act 1, this was because in the summer Gerald was with Daisy Renton also known as Eva Smith, so he initially tries to cover it up so Sheila will not find out. . As both Gerald and Eva are from different social standings, he would never cross the classes to leave Sheila.Order now
Gerald is honest when he finally opens up when questioned by the inspector, as he knows the inspector knows about the situation. He knows this because he appears to have known about everyone else’s situation, so obviously he is aware of Gerald’s. Gerald feels guilty from the way he treated Eva. This is shown when he says ‘…she didn’t blame me at all. I wish to god she had now. Perhaps I’d feel better about it’. As the interrogation progresses Gerald tries to hide his true feelings that he showed for Eva because he states ‘…as im rather more – upset by this business I would like to be alone’, which is implying he did have feelings for Eva.
As Gerald returns in Act Three his attention has shifted off Eva, as he is now more concerned in finding the inspectors true identity. This appears to be because he is more interested in how the inspector knows what he knows, than Eva’s death. Gerald is also concerned of who the inspector might tell, ‘if that had been a police inspector and he heard you (Gerald) confess…’ Gerald now thinks he and Sheila can just go back to normal after this whole situation, ‘everything is alright now Sheila…’ he now holds up the ring as if to say the marriage is still on. This shows his attitude towards Eva Smith’s death and the responsibility he should take has not changed through out. Now that the whole ordeal is over he wants to forget everything that has happened, which shows he is/has not taken any true responsibility.
Sheila is presented as being bubbly and quite outspoken. She is obviously excited about her engagement to Gerald. ‘I think it’s perfect. Now I really feel engaged.’ Seen as Gerald ignored her all summer, he has come back and asked her to marry him. Sheila manages to be both outspoken and submissive as when she is outspoken it can be taken either way, as shown in the play, half serious, half playful, or, gaily possessively.
When Sheila is told the news of Eva death, she cries and is very upset, she immediately owns up to her part. When Sheila looks at the photograph of Eva, ‘she recognises it with a little cry, gives a half stifled sob, and then runs out’. Sheila takes a vast interest in Eva’s story. She stays in the room throughout each interrogation, and tries to get everyone to own up to their responsibility. As Sheila is being interrogated she never once lies about what actually happened. Sheila takes full responsibility for her actions because she feels she blew Eva’s last chance of I proper job ‘…it was my own fault…’, and she states, ‘…I was in a furious temper’.
Sheila has realised everyone has played an active part in Eva’s death and attempts to get her family and Gerald to own up to there responsibility, ‘we cant leave it at that’, and she also wants Gerald to own up as she already knows the inspector knows, ‘of course he knows…’ Mrs Birling is rather snobby and upper class, as Sheila appears as bubbly and outspoken, more open to suggestion as she is told by the inspector it is partially her fault Eva committed suicide, and Sheila is willing to accept that. Where as Mrs Birling is trying to justify her thoughts. As she has accepted what has happened she appears to be looking for excuses and believes she has an insignificant part in this.
Mrs Birling abused her social standard by not giving Eva the help she needed. Mrs Birling is a capitalist and upper class. Because Sheila is younger and less ingrained in the class system, she is willing to accept people for who they are not their social standing. Sheila and Mrs Birling both have very different attitudes towards their personal responsibly. Sheila has been significantly affected by this where as Mrs Birling is more worried about a public scandal. At the end of Act Two she has gone back to her complacent attitude as at the start of the play.
The dramatic irony starts to come through in the play in Act Two as the audience have started to guess Eric is the father of Eva’s baby. The Birlings and Gerald are all involved in contributing to Eva’s suicide, so when Eric is the last one to be questioned, it starts to become obvious because the father of the child has not come in yet. Each character displays different attitudes towards responsibility. It is all about class and generation.
The older characters such as Mr and Mrs Birling have limited respect for the inspector and his inferences as to their culpability. This maybe due to their rigidity, to which they stick to their social standing and their concern over how Eva Smiths death will affect them and their reputation. As the younger and possibly more down to earth characters have less to loose, for instance Sheila, Eric who are younger and have more respect for the inspector and his figure of authority. Gerald is there to impress people, particularly Mr and Mrs Birling as he needs to fit into the family as Sheila’s fiance.