BBC Bitesize - GCSE English Literature - Characters - AQA - Revision 5
Sheila Birling and Eva Smith The Inspector says that after being sacked from Milwards, Eva Smith changed stronger feelings for him and was devastated when Gerald ended the relationship. Mrs Birling reveals how she knew Eva Smith. relationship between bosses and workers, saying that a man 'has to mind his own business She was offended because Eva Smith called herself 'Mrs Birling'. Priestley puts Eric in the spotlight, the last of the Birlings to be held accountable for Eva Smith's death. But. Priestley is also showing how the Birling relationships .
If Priestley had not shown this side to Eva then she might have come across as 'too good to be true' and would not be believable as a character. Sensitive The diary Eva kept after her affair with Gerald ended shows that she felt emotions very deeply and the audience empathises with her as a result.
And she said there that she had to go away and be quiet and remember 'just to make it last longer'. She felt there'd never be anything as good again for her - so she had to make it last longer". The Inspector explains how Eva Smith went away to be 'quiet' and to 'remember'. These words clearly show that Eva was emotionally sensitive. The fact she also felt that 'there'd never be anything as good again for her' make us realise how devastated she was when Gerald ended their relationship.
BBC Bitesize - GCSE English Literature - Plot summary - Revision 4
The fact that Gerald just got back on with his life and relationship with Sheila makes the audience empathise even more with the sensitive Eva.
In the final act Eric makes an emotional attack on his parents and their values and shows that he can be assertive. How is Eric Birling like this? Evidence Analysis Lacking confidence At the start of the play Eric is very unsure of himself.
He tries to speak up but is often talked down by his father. His behaviour is awkward and stilted. Suddenly I felt I just had to laugh. He is awkward and unsure of himself.
Here he cannot explain his sudden laughter. Assertive Like Sheila he can be assertive as well. Even early on in the play he tries to stand up to his father.
Why shouldn't they try for higher wages?
We try for the highest possible prices. And I don't see why she should have been sacked just because she'd a bit more spirit than the others. Here he questions his father's decision to sack Eva Smith. He backs up his point with a well-reasoned argument. His father quickly shouts him down though.
You're beginning to pretend now that nothing's really happened at all. Gerald starts at the mention of the name and Sheila becomes suspicious.
Gerald admits that he met a woman by that name in the Palace Bar. He gave her money and arranged to see her again. Goole reveals that Gerald had installed Eva as his mistress, and gave her money and promises of continued support before ending the relationship. Arthur and Sybil are horrified. An ashamed Gerald exits the room.Eric, Everything for Grade 9
Sheila acknowledges his nature and credits him for speaking truthfully but also signals that their engagement is over. After Gerald returns, Sheila hands the ring, which Gerald had given her earlier in the evening, back to him. Goole identifies Sybil as the head of a women's charity to which Eva had turned for help. Despite Sybil's haughty responses, she eventually admits that Eva, pregnant and destitute, had asked the committee for financial aid.
Sybil had convinced the committee that the girl was a liar and that her application should be denied. Despite vigorous cross-examination from Goole, Sybil denies any wrongdoing. Sheila begs her mother not to continue, but Goole plays his final card, making Sybil declare that the "drunken young man" who had made Eva pregnant should give a "public confession, accepting all the blame". When Eva realized that the money had been stolen, she refused it. Arthur and Sybil are outraged by Eric's actions, and the evening dissolves into angry recriminations.
Goole's questioning revealed that each member of the family had contributed to Eva's despondency and suicide. He reminds the Birlings that actions have consequences, and that all people are intertwined in one society, saying, "If men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish", alluding to the impending World War.
Gerald returns, telling the family that there may be no "Inspector Goole" on the police force. Arthur makes a call to the Chief Constablewho confirms this. Gerald points out that as Goole was lying about being a policeman, there may be no dead girl.
Placing a second call to the local infirmaryGerald determines that no recent cases of suicide have been reported. The elder Birlings and Gerald celebrate, with Arthur dismissing the evening's events as "moonshine" and "bluffing". The younger Birlings, however, still realise the error of their ways and promise to change. Gerald is keen to resume his engagement to Sheila, but she is reluctant, since he still admitted to having had an affair.
The play ends with a telephone call, taken by Arthur, who reports that a young woman has died, a suspected case of suicide by disinfectantand that the local police are on their way to question the Birlings. The true identity of Goole is never explained, but it is clear that the family's confessions over the course of the evening are true, and that they will be disgraced publicly when news of their involvement in Eva's demise is revealed.
Both during and after his interrogation of the family, the Birlings query whether he is actually a real inspector, and a phone call made by Mr. Birling to the local police station reveals that there is no Inspector Goole in the local police force. Goole also forces the characters to question their very own lives, and if the ones they were living were true. In addition, he also feels a responsibility to make the Birling family feel guilty for their actions. His identity remains ambiguous throughout the play.
Through reports from other characters, she is described as "pretty" with soft brown hair and big dark eyes, and it is explained that she has no family and must work for her living. Her beauty is commented on by all the characters. Her beauty attracts both Gerald and Eric to her, with Eric sexually exploiting her. Sheila comments disparagingly that Eva looked prettier when she wore a certain dress than Sheila did herself, and seems threatened by Eva's beauty, confessing that if Eva had been plain she would have been unlikely to have had her fired.
Sheila imagines that Eva laughed at her disparagingly and so "punishes" her by having her fired. Sybil also criticises Eva for appearing proud and putting on airs and graces, and for being "impertinent" rather than being meek and grateful to her social superiors.
At the end of the play, Gerald suggests that Eva Smith may not have been the same person but rather a collective personification of all the different working-class women that the family had exploited, invented by Goole to make the family feel guilty.
Eric Birling - Character analysis in GCSE English Literature
Yet the final phone call, announcing that a police inspector is shortly to arrive at the Birlings' house to investigate the suicide of a young girl, leaves open the possibility that Eva Smith really did exist after all. Arthur Birling[ edit ] Arthur Birling is described as "a heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties", husband of Sybil, and father of Sheila and Eric Birling.
He represents the capitalist ruling class, repeatedly describing himself with pride as a "hard-headed businessman", and the head of a patriarchal family structure, and is arguably the main subject of Priestley's social critique.
He describes himself and his family as an upper class family. Dominant, arrogant, self-centred, and morally blind, he is insistent throughout about his lack of responsibility for Eva's death and quotes his economic justification for firing her as being the importance of keeping his labour costs low and quelling dissent, which he says is standard business practice.