Tuesday, September 17, 2019
Discuss the way in which Sheila changes throughout the play Essay
Discuss the way in which Sheila changes throughout the play The Birlings are a middle Edwardian class family. The play is set in 1912, in the house of the Birling family in the North Midlands. At that time a woman's role was considered inferior to the men's as it was always presumed that the man was the head of the house. Women were also not thought of as being able to take part in serious conversations, and that they needed to be protected. At the beginning of the play, Sheila is described as young, attractive, girly and naÃ ¯ve. Also she has just become engaged. This is made known through the stage directions and how she reacts to certain situations. At the start of the play, Sheila shows her character by being very girly in her contributions to the conversation. As the stage directions say 'Sheila is still admiring her ring' and not listening to her father's speech. This shows that she is self-centred and is enjoying the attention that the engagement is bringing her. Also she refers to her parents as "Mummy" and "Daddy" at the beginning of the play, emphasizing her dependency on her family. The arrival of the Inspector seems to be the beginning of the change in Sheila. When Sheila says 'except for all last summer, when you never came near me'. She does not question Gerald further on the subject though she knew where he was. She does not question him further about it because the earlier, girly side of Sheila's character would not be able to cope with the truth. Though she knows that he has not been 'awfully busy at the works', where he said he has been, but having an affair. When Sheila first finds out about the girl's suicide she is genuinely upset and shows her sensitive side in her reaction, 'I... ...nd of the play she is unable to accept her parents attitude and is both amazed and concerned that they haven't learned anything from the events of the evening as she sarcastically says 'So nothing really happened. So there's nothing to be sorry for, nothing to learn. We can all go on behaving just as we did.' By this she means that she does not really understand how she could have learnt more in a few hours than her parents have in their lifetime. In the play, Priestley is trying to show that there is a change in the younger generation. He portrays this by the characters of Sheila and Eric taking responsibility for their part in the death of Eva Smith and the fact that her parents haven't learned anything from the events of that night. He is trying to show that people should take responsibility and care for each other, as in the idea of a big community.