- For Teachers
I am about to take my AQA English Literature Exams and i was wondering if i type up my response to a question could, possibly a teacher, mark/grade my work and point out what i am doing well and what i need to improve on please.
The question is: "How does Priestley present the change in Sheila during the course of the play
An Inspector Calls? How do you think this change reflects some of Priestley's ideas?"
Priestley presents Sheila at the start as an immature girl who follows the tradition of her parents and expectations of daughters in those times, but gradually and when the inspector is introduced, Priestley presents her more mature and responsible when she takes part of the blame for the death of eva smith. This reflect his ideas of socialism when people in society should take responsibility and should look after each other. He presents her in stage directions, the structure of the play and the language used.
At the start of the play, Sheila is introduced at the starts as a girl who is "pleased in life" and is "a pretty girl in her twenties" which shows that she is expected of nothing more than to be a pretty face who does not require an education but believes she has done things which she is proud of but in fact she has done none. This shows to the audience that women in those times were not treated as equally than men and were not seen as people who can make their own choices in life as they are "uneducated" but are only pretty to the eye. This makes the audience feel, especially the female audience, that this is wrong and that this idea is not seen as "normal". Also it shows a disadvantage of capitalism environment to females which is the intention of priestley and to make his ideas of socialism more convincing.
Priestley also presents Sheila when she gets married to gerald when she is only in her twenties which shows she is taking on the tradition of marrying as soon as possible like her parents did. This is shown when Sheila complains to gerald. "except for all last summer when you never came near me" this shows that the type of language Sheila used is that of a child and shows her single minded thoughts when all Sheila cares about is being with her partner when gerald has more important things to do. But this is argued by her mother, Mrs Birling, that "you'll have to get used to that, just like i have". This shows that like her mother, women are seen as lower people in society and have to make themselves occupied until they are needed and must not complain if they are not needed.
As the inspector is introduced, we see a change in Sheila which also reflects what change priestley wants in society. An example of this is when Sheila is thought to be too young to be hearing these complicated matters although she is in her twenties. "yes but i see no point in mentioning the subject - especially - (indicating Sheila)" which shows that Mr Birling thinks low and thinks she is too innocent but she contradicts what he thinks by responding "but you're forgetting i'm suppose to be getting married to the hero of it" which shows how much Sheila has taken responsibility and realised her place in the whole situation. It also shows how much Sheila has matured because of the Inspector allowing that to happen.
Additionally, Sheila has changed in the play which emphasizes some of Priestleys ideas by showing how at the start, she was an ignorant, innocent girl who is immature but as time goes on, we begin to see how we see her matured side in her place in eva's death and this shows the change priestley wants. He wants people to change from their "capitalist" ways e.g. Sheila taking on the role of her parents by marrying early and having no independence. He does this by showing all the disadvantages of following the capitalist ways by using Sheila as an example and by this, it makes the audience realise the way they are living has a serious effect on the working class (the death of eva smith) and that they should change their ways (like Sheila did) and they will have more sense of morality in their conscience.
In conclusion, priestley presents Sheila at the start of the play as a single minded girl with no ambition except to follow her parents way of life and to be uneducated. But this gradually changed when the inspector is introduced, he allows the mature side of Sheila to come through the capitalist ways and this is proven to have a great effect on society as she takes responsibility for her actions.
Once again, Thank You.