In this essay I am going to comment and analyse the opinions and reactions Priestly intended upon his audience. I will focus on the characters and their reactions to Inspector Goole’s speech towards the end of the play.
Each character reacted in different ways, showing a different range of emotions. Starting with Mr Birling, his view on his own importance in the death of Eva Smith leads him to be very unsympathetic and is certainly not willing to accept any responsibility for her death. Mr Birling said ‘She’d had a lot to say – far too much – so she had to go’
This quote shows his exact feelings towards the situation. That really he does not actually care. He feels that there is no chance that his involvement in the investigation played any part in the situation getting so bad that she would have wanted to commit suicide. He refuses to accept any responsibility what so ever.
Next the inspector questions Sheila. Before Sheila knows about her involvement in the death of Eva Smith she is already very interested in the story and genuinely feels sorry for the girl. Unlike her father, she responds to the girl as a person, not as cheap labour.
‘But these girls aren’t cheap labour – they’re people.’ (Page 19).
She feels her father is in the wrong for not accepting responsibility for his own actions. When Sheila acknowledges that her own jealousy and bad temper had led to the girl losing her job at shop, Milwards, she feels very responsible and admitted that she behaved badly and also that she was ashamed. Sheila grows stronger and more sympathetic as the play progresses. The way that Priestley wrote her character, made the audience feel her guilt to such an extent that you began to feel sorry for her as well.
Following Sheila is Gerald Croft. Gerald is the son of Birling’s rival industrialist, Sir George Croft. Gerald met Eva Smith one night down in the Palace bar. This bar was not a very nice place and most prostitutes would hang there waiting for a...