An Inspector Calls - Sheila Birling (character analysis)

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Bethany Cunningham An Inspector Calls Sheila Birling
1. What Shelia says and does (the impression of her)
Hers and Gerald's relationship
2. How other characters respond to her
Facial expressions/body language
The methods Priestly uses to present Shelia
Stage directions
How she reacts in certain circumstances (phrases)
Show how everything is placed for one thing.
How Shelia is described at first?
'Pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life, rather excited'
What are the readers first impressions?
How simple Shelia's life has been and it seems very easy for girl in her 'early twenties' and this implies that
she is oblivious to the real world and it is almost as if she is been protected from what is really going on
outside her capitalist bubble where life isn't as easier as having a father as wealthy as Arthur Birling.
Priestly begins with Sheila's life seeming perfect and this contrasts with the realism of life also as
this is the first part of the play, it is probably going to change because nothing stays perfect for
everyone. The writer is portraying that something is going to change very soon.
What does Shelia seem like in Act 1?
Shelia is spoilt and seems to be involved in an arranged marriage this involves her (the daughter of a
successful business and Gerald Croft the son of the rival business). Priestly uses this to indicate how
many capitalists believed in an arranged marriage in order to secure two successful businesses and
took this in as normal to have an arranged marriage. Shelia doesn't seem mature enough for a
commitment such as marriage because she seems to be more interested in the ring and not the life after
the ring. The attention surrounding her "important" engagement gives her great pleasure which clarifies her
as selfcentred. At one point in act one she also seems superficial. Also she possibly implies signs of
intelligence but she reverts to her childish and sly comments such as 'don't be an ass Eric'. Priestly uses
Shelia at this part in the play to connote the stereotypical capitalist's offspring, however with the
signs of intelligence Priestly is trying to convey indicates that Shelia has the chance to change but
she hasn't been brought up in the right way and she just needs a "nudge" in the right direction.
However at one point she doesn't follow her spoilt and immature act when she seems very playful at the
beginning of the play but it seems a darker undertone when she mentions 'last summer when you never
came near me'. It suggests that she isn't as naïve and shallow as she first appeared.
What is Sheila's relationship with her father portrays about her character and what her father sees
her as?
From Mr Birling's point of view Sheila is a parting gif in the joining of the two companies and he doesn't seem
interested in whether Shelia is fine with the deal or not, he leaves her out of the deal. However once the
inspector begins to interfere he seems to finally consider Shelia and try to protect her. 'Nothing to do with
you Shelia, run along' and it seems as though her is trying to shield her away from the realism of life but this
also could establish Mr Birling's views on women's rights at the time because it doesn't seem to involve her
he tries to avoid her out of the "grown up" conversation. Also 'run along' validates that Mr Birling still treats
Sheila as a child even though she is in her 'twenties', this is Mr Birling's sexist views being outlined her, how
he can't even treat his own daughter with respect even though she is grown up and able to make her own
decisions and mistakes.
Once the inspector questions Sheila and she changes her whole character she stands up to her father and
says 'but these girls aren't cheap labour, they are people'. Even before the inspector changed her she is
filled with compassion from her father's treatment of his workers. After the inspector opens her eyes to the
real world she finally understands the fakeness of her father's approach to business. This explains the views

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Bethany Cunningham An Inspector Calls Sheila Birling
of many people in 1912 especially those who were forced to work for low wages and the bosses earning a lot
of money. It displays one such example with Mr Birling and how he works for 'lower costs and higher prices'
not thinking about his worker's lives. This portrays the capitalism state in 1912 and how many people
were treat in order for the bosses to make a load of money.…read more

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Bethany Cunningham An Inspector Calls Sheila Birling
has changed from act one in the play. Also it demonstrates Priestley's views and that there is a
hope for change in society to become much more socialist. Also it proves that the younger
generation have the power to change and the inspector also actually says in the plays that the
young ones are 'more impressionable' and this encapsulates that the younger generation have the
power to change.…read more


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