It is obvious that she holds Gerald responsible and this should be shown by the bitterness that creeps into her voice when she recalls how he lied to her about his activities the previous summer. In this act, Sheila also needs to show bitterness in her voice towards her mother in response to the callousness Mrs Birling shows towards Eva. Her mother blankly refused Eva a small pay out from a woman’s help service out of simple pettiness. This bitterness must be shown in the sharp way that Sheila says to her mother: “You mustn’t try to build up a kind of wall between us and that girl.
If you do, then the inspector will just break it down. And it’ll be all the worse when she does. ” This demonstrates that even though she was brought up in a middle class household, she still doesn’t separate herself from the rest of the world or think she is any better than lower class people are. Sheila is also very angry with her mother over the predicament she finds herself in due to the comments she makes about the punishment of the man who impregnated Eva, as only Sheila realises that Eric was the farther of Eva’s unborn child.
She both understands and sympathises with Eric; Perhaps put an arm around Eric or a move closer to him at this point could show Sheila’s sympathy, as he enters the room at the end of the Act, Sheila continually persists in finding out the truth in a way that makes the family realise that each of them played a part in the death of Eva. And she does this by stating that even if Eva didn’t exist, as the rest of the family actually start to believe, the point of the inspector’s visit was to make them realise that each of them had done something which had made someone suffer and made their life worse.
She becomes very frustrated at her family’s inability to accept responsibility for the girl’s death and this frustration must be conveyed to the audience by using a sharp voice when she says: “The point is you don’t seem to have learnt anything. ” It is at the end of Act Two that Sheila first starts to understand the inspectors role in the play, and realises that it doesn’t matter what he says, its what he gets each of them to say that matters. His role is to get the family members to reassess their treatment of others by making them admit their cruelty towards people less fortunate than themselves.
This is Priestly’s socialist views coming through and we realise that Sheila was chosen as the ‘mouthpiece’ for these views as she is the one character, except Eric who accepts the blame for Eva’s death and promises to treat people with more consideration. Any lines, which make these views, stand out; need to be said with emphasis. For example, when Sheila says her speech in Act Three: “But don’t you see if all that’s come out tonight is true, then it doesn’t much matter who it was who made us confess. And it was true, wasn’t it? You turned the girl out of one job, and I had her turned out of another.
Gerald kept her at a time when he was supposed to be too busy to see me. Eric – well, we know what Eric did. And mother hardened her heart and gave her the final push that finished her. That’s what’s important”. You should not only direct your speech to the other actors, but also to the audience to gain their sympathy and realise the point you are trying to put across. As the character of Sheila you must remember that you have a very important role, in that you must present Priestly’s message about accepting responsibility to the audience in such a way that everyone will understand and learn from.
To do this you must show Sheila learning and developing throughout the play. The learning process is a difficult one and you must show this by displaying a wide range of emotions, which your audience will become aware of through your tone of voice, facial expressions and body language. As Sheila the costume you will be wearing will be periodic and consist of a long, white or innocence evening dress with, short, puffed sleeves. You should be wearing very little make-up or jewellery.
This purity of appearance would show Sheila’s innocence of not been corrupted by the outside world and this supports the idea that Sheila is the perfect candidate to voice Priestley’s message. She is, after all the most likely candidate to learn! End of Memo.