In my personal opinion, I would say that Sheila is more to blame than her father, simply because Eva had loved her job at Milward’s and she had just come off the streets and was straight into a well-paid job. When she was fired she must have had serious emotional problems, as I believe this had been a much greater knock back to her than being sacked from Birling’s factory. Due to Sheila’s interference, Eva’s last chance at a better life is ruined. Also, Eva being fired was through not fault of Sheila’s own.
Sheila had said that she was particularly in a ‘furious temper’ that day and I think she was just venting her frustration at someone, who happened to be Eva. The reason for her bad mood was because she ‘tried something on,’ and it ‘just didn’t suit me at all. ‘ In addition, after her rage she ‘caught sight of her smiling at the assistant. ‘ When she was asked whether she had been ‘jealous of her’ she answers, ‘Yes, I suppose so. ‘ She had also before ‘been in a bad temper anyhow. ‘ I think that the least responsible character for Eva Smith’s suicidal death was Gerald Croft.Order now
He was the only one who provided a small period of happiness for Eva Smith, as well as a source of income for this time. He knew Eva as Daisy Renton. He first met her ‘in the stalls bar at the palace’, which was a bar at a theatre. He was drawn to Daisy/Eva because ‘She was very pretty – soft brown hair and big dark eyes’, and that he saw Alderman Meggarty harassing her. He therefore came to her to answer her ‘cry for help’. He took her for a drink and a meal because he pitied her and he learnt that she was desperate for a place to settle in and stay, so he let her use his friend’s rooms.
She then became his ‘mistress’ and they were together for the whole summer of 1911. Gerald then ‘broke it off definitely’ and so ‘She had to move out of those rooms. ‘ He finished with her and cast her aside because of his relationship with Sheila Birling. They both also knew there wasn’t going to be any future in their relationship because of their classes and social standings. Daisy/Eva herself knew it wouldn’t have been a long affair and there is also evidence that she was surprised at how long it did last, ‘She told me that she’s happier than she had ever been before – but that she knew it couldn’t last – hadn’t expected it to last.
‘ I think that Daisy/Eva benefited from these events in the long run rather than lost out. She might have been heartbroken for a little period of time (she didn’t seem to show any remorse) and maybe even homeless, but Gerald had shown her love and also given her money to ensure she was stable until the end of the year. She had a period of happiness, security and love for a while which, as far as we know, she hadn’t had for a long time. Although Gerald left her, she was in the same position as she was before; probably better off.
Gerald kept the girl out of trouble during the summer when she could have been out on the streets or at the Palace bar getting into trouble, like she had before. Gerald himself felt responsible for her death when he heard about it. He might have had negative thoughts such as the girl might have had more to lose than previously when he had kicked her out, and also when she’d been with him she had an enjoyable luxurious lifestyle, and that being rejected by him was probably more hurtful to the girl than the dismissals inflicted on her by Arthur and Sheila Birling because there were strong emotions involved.
He must have also felt that he’d given her false hope and used her which ultimately made her life less bearable, and therefore he must have thought he was guilty and the one to blame. I reckon at this point he must have definitely regretted having even met Daisy/Eva, as he now had to suffer the consequences – feeling very remorseful. Gerald was very upset about the girl’s death as he had known her reasonably well and after all was quite fond of her, ‘She was young, pretty and warm-hearted, and intensely grateful,’ and ‘She didn’t blame me at all. I wish to God she had now.
Perhaps I’d feel better about it,’ both show this. But as a whole, compared to the rest of the characters, I think that Gerald is the least to blame. He was the only person who respected her and treated her like a human being; not just as a piece of dirt. In my opinion I think that Eric is one of the most responsible characters for the death of Eva Smith. Eric met Daisy/Eva ‘In the Palace Bar,’ which apparently is where ‘women of the town’ drink. Eric was in there having a beer when he met the girl. He ‘insisted’ to go ‘with her to her lodgings,’ and they made love.
They were both very drunk and Eric couldn’t even remember her name the next day! They met up every week and eventually Eva/Daisy found out she was pregnant a few weeks later. Eric realized what he had done and so he stole money from his father, Mr. Birling (who found out when Eric confessed to the inspector). He stole the money to give to Daisy/Eva and to support her and the baby, but she ‘refused to take any more,’ when she found out the money was stolen (I think that Eric may have not acted mature in his ways of getting money, but he panicked and had no other way of getting it fast.
This shows his immaturity and the lack of communication between himself and his family). He then left her pregnant with his baby to fend for herself, and he gave her no support whatsoever. I think that this must have been the biggest knock back Eva suffered. Eric doesn’t take responsibility for his actions at the start, as he goes off and blames his mother for killing her, ‘you killed her! ‘ and then roundabouts the blame slightly back to his father for being a person he cannot talk to, ‘because your not the type of father a chap could go to when he is in trouble.
‘ I think that this is just shock at the fact that Eva is dead and so is his baby. Nearer to the end of the play, Eric begins to accept responsibility for what he has done, and shows a whole new mature side to him that shows great reasoning. I think that this new side comes out because he has had time to adjust to what he and the rest of the characters have done, ‘the fact remains that I did what I did. ‘ This shows great maturity and he’s trying to get the rest of the family to accept responsibility for what part they played no matter how small a part it was.
I think that Eric feels a bit of guilt too, more so than his father, but I would say not much than his sister, Sheila Birling. Unlike his father he knows he was in the wrong. It is this fact that makes me feel that he isn’t the most responsible for the Eva Smith’s suicide. However, his actions were a vital role in her death. He made Eva pregnant at the worst time possible, and it could be said that he raped her; Eva was heavily drunk and Eric might have taken advantage of this and therefore made love to her, leaving her pregnant (after all, it was him who had ‘insisted’ he should go home with her, and who had ‘threatened to make a row’).
This alone could have driven Eva to suicide, knowing that she would be raising a child on her own with little money, no home or security. I very much doubt she would have been able to pick herself off her feet at this stage, and cope with her life. Her moral was lower here than at previous stages. This meant that she wouldn’t have had a desire or made any effort to pick herself off her feet. Eric plays the last true important role in Eva/Daisy’s demise, getting her into the condition she could not possibly cope with without help; he took her to the point of no return.
However, there were options to assist her. For example, the ‘Brumley Woman’s Organisation’ charity was an option. There were ways around this situation. The girl took this into account and so therefore that was why Sybil Birling and the charity was really Eva Smith’s last resort. Eva Smith appealed for the ‘Brumley Woman’s Organisation’, which gave money out to women who were in desperate need of it, such as Eva Smith. Sybil Birling was a prominent member of the charity. Eva came to her asking for money because she was carrying Eric’s baby and had no job and thus no money to support herself.
She went to the charity claiming to be Mrs. Birling, as she thought that if she was carrying Eric’s baby and used the Birling name, she would have a better chance of getting a response and therefore some money. Unfortunately she was shut down because Sybil Birling thought that she was mocking her and so she refused to give her money. She did not believe Eva’s stories about her ‘husband’ deserting her etc, and so said that she felt ‘perfectly justified in advising my committee not to allow her claim for assistance.
‘ She was also astonished that such a girl could have applied for help using the name ‘Mrs.Birling’, ‘scruples that were simply absurd in a girl of her position,’ which means that those less off should have no rights. This shows that Mrs. Birling is very anti-lower-class. Mrs. Birling continued to pass the blame, ‘First, the girl herself. ‘ ‘Secondly, I blame the young man who was the father of child she was going to have. ‘ Indeed later on she did find out that the ‘young man’ happened to be her son, Eric. Mrs Birling was ‘prejudiced… against her case,’ because Eva Smith used the name of ‘Mrs. Birling’. Knowing the facts about Eric we now know this was justified usage of the Birling name.
As far as responsibility goes, I would say that Mrs Birling was another one of the major characters responsible for Eva’s suicide, although she did not accept it for any of her actions. She, like her husband, did not admit that she was in the wrong, though we all know that she was clearly. She also believes that she was within her right to refuse Eva the money. She thought that she was totally right in her decision even now, with the knowledge she has, ‘I’m very sorry, but I think she only has herself to blame,’ and ‘………… I did nothing I am ashamed of or that won’t bear investigation,’ both show this.
I think that this is a good piece of evidence to support the idea of no responsibility being taken. I think that Mr and Mrs Birling share the same prejudice ideas and almost self-belief that they are never in the wrong. I think that the last piece of evidence also supports the idea that Mrs Birling has no guilt about Eva’s death and her part in it. As far as blame goes, Mrs Birling played a major part in the suicide of Eva Smith. She knocked her back when she had no money, was pregnant, had no boyfriend, husband, family or even friends that could help, and when her life was basically nothing. She knocked Eva back through not fault of her own.
Mrs Birling was, as it were, the sole sentence to death, and by removing Eva’s rights based on prejudices, Mrs Birling left Eva only one way out. This was more than which Eva could take, and it was after this that Eva committed suicide. In conclusion, my opinion is that, although all the characters were to blame for the death of Eva Smith, Eric Birling was the most responsible. The other character’s incidents were all uncalled for and was just them being either frustrated or prejudice towards Eva because, for example, of her working class background. However, Eric was not prejudice towards Eva/Daisy, and he was not really frustrated either.
He simply treated the poor girl as if she wasn’t human. He made love to her and then tried to pay her off when he realised she was in fact pregnant. After the girl broke away from him, she was left completely on the edge with nothing except the burden of an unborn baby. If Eric had not stolen the money that he gave to her, and got drunk and slept with her, she would not have had to leave him as she would not have got pregnant with no money and without a place live. Eric did however feel remorse for his actions but it seems to me though, that part of his display of emotions was to manoeuvre himself out of trouble with his parents.
Since she had absolutely nothing after the relationship with Eric, except an ‘unwanted’ unborn child, I think that this was the situation that drove her to the point to commit suicide by drinking the disinfectant. We mustn’t, however, confuse blame with responsibility. All of the characters were partly responsible; some to a more deeper extent than others. But all the characters were equally to blame, as it was not just down to one person, just as the Inspector makes it clear at the end of the play, ‘But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that, never forget it. ‘