An Inspector Calls- Sheila Birling Essay

790 WordsNov 27, 20144 Pages
Sheila Birling is Priestley’s damning comment on young upper class women in the 1900’s. What do you think is Sheila Birling’s role in the play and how does Priestley present her? Sheila Birling’s role in ‘An Inspector Calls’ is to carry Priestley’s thoughts on the importance of a new generation. For Priestley, she portrays the fact that in order to create a positive change in society, we need to realise that “We are all responsible for each other”. The play was written in 1945, after WW2, but set in WW1- Priestley’s intention was to show how much society has evolved for the better after both wars, and that before any war occurred, there was hardly any justice or equality. People like Sheila were the ones who created this change in society and it is important that we do not go back to the backwardness of pre-1914 Britain. In Act 1, Sheila is portrayed as a naïve, superficial young woman, who represents the young generation of the upper class. Her childish side is shown through when she calls her parents “Mummy” and “Daddy”. She also has to justify herself in the way a child does when she tells Mr Birling, “I’m sorry Daddy… actually I was listening”, implying that she has the attention span of a little girl because she is treated like one by the people around her. She is also introduced as a typical upper class woman who does not look beyond the mundane in life. Priestley gives evidence of this when Gerald gives Sheila the engagement ring and she says “Now I really feel engaged”. The emphasis on the word “really” signifies her superficial mentality as she truly believes that a mere ring is the confirmation of her engagement. The engagement is not entirely out of the love between Gerald and Sheila but more a marriage of convenience- Mr Birling says in his speech that the union “…has brought [the two companies] together…” Instead of expressing her love, “…she kisses

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