There are five characters who can be linked to the death of Eva Smith. All of the members of the Birling family and Sheila Birling’s fiancÃ© Gerald Croft. All of these five characters will be looked at separately before an opinion is drawn.
Mr. Birling is connected to Eva Smith in the fact that he employed her as a worker in his factory. After Eva led a strike over pay, Mr. Birling fired her and Eva found herself on the streets. Mr. Birling’s son Eric found the fact that her father Arthur had fired a woman over such a small dispute over pay as 2 and a half pence. This can be shown when he says, ‘Why shouldn’t they try for higher wages? And I don’t see why she should have been sacked just because she’d a bit more spirit than the others.’ Mr. Birling stands by himself, believing that he had done the correct thing when he says, ‘I can’t accept any responsibility.’Order now
Sheila Birling, Arthur Birling’s daughter, was the second member of the family to be connected to Eva Smith. Eva Smith was working in a shop called Milwards when Sheila paid a visit there to but a dress. Sheila became displeased with Eva’s attitude when she caught a glimpse of her smirking at her in the mirror when she was trying a dress on. Sheila complained, and as a regular customer, she got the girl sacked. Sheila took the fact that she had done this to heart and felt exceptionally bitter that she could have done such a thing that may have ended a girl’s life. This can be shown when she said ‘Don’t you understand? And if I could help her now, I would-‘. Sheila is very shocked when it is revealed to her that Eva Smith took her own life, and Sheila instantly believes that it is all her fault that Eva is now dead, especially because Sheila got Eva fired because she was jealous of her good looks.
Eric Birling, Arthur Birling’s daughter, was also connected to the death of Eva Smith in and was directly in contact with her, which comes as a great shock to his family when it is revealed on page 49. Eric played a major part in Eva Smith’s life for a few months when they were having an affair. During this period, Eva became pregnant with Eric’s baby. When Eric is told about the death of Eva, it is obvious that he believes that he played no part in her death and that it was all his own mothers fault. This can be shown when he says ‘you killed her. She came to you to protect me â€“ and you turned her away â€“ yes, and you killed her â€“ and the child she’d had too â€“ my child â€“ your own grandchild â€“ you killed them both â€“ damn you, damn you -‘. This passage shows that Eric might have actually felt something for Eva, in contradiction to what he told the inspector when he said ‘I wasn’t in love with her or anything’. Eric obviously tried very hard to make life as comfortable as possible for Eva Smith as well, so he may not be one of the major contributors to Eva’s death, Eric believes that his mother Mrs. Birling is the one who killed Eva.
Mrs. Birling, the wife of Arthur Birling, is seen by Eric to be the one to have killed Eva Smith. This is because she turned Eva away from the organisation that she chaired because she felt that the story that Eva Smith was telling was false and that Mrs. Birling also didn’t like the fact that Eva had used the name Mrs. Birling when she came in front of the committee. The real Mrs. Birling didn’t like this, so she used her power to reject Eva’s case. Mrs. Birling, however, doesn’t think that she has herself to blame for the death of Eva Smith. This can be shown when she says ‘I think she had only herself to blame.’ Mrs. Birling also felt that she would have done anything wrong even if Eva Smith hadn’t used Mrs. Birling as her name. This can be shown where Mrs. Birling says ‘I did nothing that I’m ashamed of that won’t bear investigationâ€¦I consider I did my duty.’ These few examples could argue that Mrs. Birling is quite arrogant and believes that she is always right and that anything she does will never need justifying.
The last character to investigate is the fiancÃ© of Sheila, Gerald Croft. Gerald is another character who had had very close ties to Eva Smith, or as her name was at this point ion history, Daisy Renton. At the start of his relationship with Sheila, Gerald had an affair with Daisy. It doesn’t appear that ht ending of this relationship with Daisy, however, had much to do with the death of Daisy or Eva. This can be shown when Gerald says ‘She told me she’d been happier than she’d ever been before’. This shows that the affair that Daisy had with Gerald didn’t really do much for the breaking down of Eva into her taking her own life. This shows that Gerald didn’t really have much to do with the death of Eva Smith, but more with the keeping of Eva Smith happy.
All of the five characters were all connected with Eva Smith or Daisy Renton, but only three of them, Sheila, Arthur and Mrs. Birling, made Eva or Daisy unhappy as a consequence of their actions. Arthur fired Eva and put her out onto the streets, but she was happy again when she found another job at Milwards. This means that Arthur shouldn’t carry a lot of the blame for the death of
Eva. Sheila complained about Eva and succeeded in getting her fired from her new job. This put Eva out onto the streets. This must have brought her close to unhappiness, but Gerald than had an affair with her, which picked her off the floor and made her happy again. Eric then slept with Eva and got her pregnant, but he supported her with money to make sure that she would be all right. Mrs. Birling then turned Eva Smith away from the help that she desperately required for the caring of the baby that she was going to have. This seemed like the last straw for Eva, and when she was rejected, she felt it was one too many and took her own life. This means that the majority of the blame must lie with Mrs. Birling, although a small part would lie with Arthur for setting the ball rolling, and with Sheila for helping her along the way.