An Inspector Calls – J.B. Prie

Length: 9 Pages 2192 Words

Sheila and Mr. Birling have very different characteristics. Sheila, being a much younger character, is quite impressionable, whereas Mr. Birling is not. Sheila’s attitude and views change as the story goes on, whereas Mr Birling refuses to change altogether. Their characteristics are shown in their reactions to Eva’s death, and to each other. Mr. Birling is the father of Sheila Birling and considers himself to have a very high status in society. He is a prosperous factory owner, a local magistrate and ex-Lord Mayor of Brumley. He regards himself as being reasonable, but his first priority is to make money ‘it’s my duty to keep labour costs down’ and therefore pays his employees no more than the going rate. However, as the play continues further, we are shown how Sheila sees her father being exposed as a ‘hard headed business man’ and as an insensitive character. Sheila on the other hand is shown as being young, attractive, sensitive, an honest character. She is one of the very few characters in the play that is impressionable, and deeply affected by what the Inspector reveals to her family through the play. Mr Birling and Sheila’s character have very few similarities. This is shown in the very first act, by the l Continue...


I think, as the Inspector knew that Sheila, being a younger character, was most likely to admit her blame and accept the consequences of her actions. He feels his business is so much more important than even just the opinions of his employees, who he clearly feels, do not have his knowledge of the business world. When Mrs Birling's story is revealed, both Mr Birling and Sheila continue to display different reactions. When she finds out about the involvement of her father, she is quick to be critical of him, and not to protect him. Sheila is used as a 'voice' throughout the play, which is obviously what Priestley intended. Mr Birling mentions that he is a friend with the Inspector's Chief Constable, to almost threaten the Inspector, although the Inspector seems to ignore this fact. Sheila, is very quick to realise the Inspectors motives, and tries to warn the other members of her family not to lie about their previous actions, as she knows that the Inspector is going to get to the bottom of the situation and make them all realise their involvement in Eva's death. Her use of slang expressions, helps to emphasise her youth whereas Mr Birling's words as well as language clearly emphasise how pompous he is. Whereas her father tries to discourage the break up for obvious reasons, 'Now, Sheila, I'm no defending him. Like when she says 'I felt rotten at the time but now I feel even worse'. The reaction Mr Birling initially displays changes within a few moments. However, at the beginning of the play, when Sheila's story is revealed, she seems to have very similar characteristics to that of her father. He refuses to learn of his responsibilities to others less fortunate than himself and is still unsympathetic, unlike Sheila, who displays exactly the opposite attitude to her father. Priestly shows his hatred of the behaviour and attitudes of the 'upper class' by choosing Mr Birling to represent such a character.