Imagine that you are directing the play an inspector calls and have to explain to the actress who is playing Sheila how you think her part should be played. Write the directions you give her. Dear Elizabeth Andrews Congratulations on receiving the role of being Sheila Birling in the play, “An Inspector Calls”. The play was written by a man called J. B. Priestley, moreover it is known that J. B. Priestley wrote this play in 1914 however it was published and brought out to the world in 1945. The play is set in an industrial town called Brumley and the whole scene of the play is set in the rich family of the Birling’s.
The Birling’s are seen to have a high status in society and are most likely to be industrial as they believe in a system of making there own investment and industry with little governmental control. The play also depicts the freedom of women, as this play was written during the Second World War; it portrays the work of women in industry as men had to fight the war. Therefore this time women took responsibility, so they proved that women are equal to men, as they can do the same as men. The whole plot of the play is an inspector from the future comes to teach the Birling family and Mr.
Croft how to live life and how there attitude should be towards others. During this play J. B Priestley tries to give these characters a lesson on equality and rights at the same time he tries to make them realize the mistakes and how money and status is not everything. The main theme of this play is responsibility. The inspector tries to make each of the characters take responsibility and to do this he tries to change his personality from being mysterious to being someone who ask many questions an even to the point of challenging the Birling’s for the to cough out the truth.
As this play is set in the dining room, it is the day of Gerald and Sheila’s engagement. Eric Birling (Sheila’s brother), Mr. Birling and Mrs. Birling (Sheila’s parents) are all present at this engagement party. Sheila is one of the more considerate characters in contrast to the others members of the Birling family, she also has a sense of what is right or wrong compared to the others in the book. She has a very high status due to her father and is a girl of her time therefore she would basically go to do a lot of shopping with her parents. In act one Sheila shows a lot of confidence,” I should jolly well think not”
(Act 1, page 2). This shows that not only does Sheila know what’s right or wrong but she also knows how to stand up for her self as she says it in a “gaily, possessively” (act 1 page 2) manner. Therefore her confidence is expressed as she does have some control over herself than others ruling over her as she is a young women in society. At the start of the play Sheila was described as a girl who is very pleased with life and rather excited and is very optimistic on the concept of marrying Gerald as well as him being attractive and young. “Oh-it’s wonderful! Look-mummy-isn’t it a beauty?
” (Act 1 page 5). As we can tell that Sheila is a bit spoilt as she most probably gets what she likes or the most expensive presents. This also tells the audience how Sheila would probably go shopping a lot with her mum as they have similar and a high standard for clothes, jewelry and makeup. At this point Sheila should look overwhelmed and almost as if she would cry the tears of happiness. As the inspector arrives at the Birling’s the whole atmosphere changes in the house as no one is used to being asked questions as the Birling’s are seen as a higher class in society than others.
When Sheila hears of the death of Eva Smith she is genuinely shocked by the news, despite the fact that she does not know her, she is still upset. We can see this from what she says when she hears the news: “Oh-how horrible! Was it an accident? ” (Act1 page 17). Furthermore as the inspector shows the photograph of Eva Smith Sheila reacts like no one else, this makes the audience realize that either Sheila has got something to do with Eva or she is simply just shocked therefore she may have been feeling guilty. Sheila’s concern for Eva Smith rises.
” Girls aren’t cheap labour- they’re people”. (Act 1 page 19). We can see that Sheila is becoming more mature as she is now realizing women’s positions in society. J. B Priestley raises awareness of women’s equal rights but he does this in a very clever manner as he tries to send his point across by using Sheila. When the inspector accuses Sheila she does not react. “So I’m really responsible”. (Act 1 page 23). Sheila does not react the way her father would when she is accused to be one of the causes for Eva’s death.
This tells the audience that Sheila has now become more mature and has become responsible for actions; the audience may also feel that Sheila is very brave as she is one of the first ones in her family to actually confess her connection or relationship for Eva Smith. In act 2 Sheila is very upset and angry with Gerald, she takes of her most possessed thing, and her engagement ring as Gerald has no concern or consideration for what he did to daisy Renton or Eva Smith and how he has broken Sheila’s trust.
The actress should not be depressed whilst Gerald confesses as Sheila would now feel happier as Gerald does speak the truth and did not avoid it instead. Sheila tries to protect her family by taking all the blame on herself. “We all started like that-so confident, so pleased with ourselves until he began asking questions. ” (Act 2 pages 30). Sheila tries to protect her family as she is the only one that is aware of how much the inspector knows, the audience may feel Sheila is over reacting as she speaks out loud to shut her mother’s mouth up. J.
B Priestly is trying to tell the audience that, never make mistakes because when one does its hard to resolve it back. At this time Sheila feels guilty and maybe a bit embarrassed as she is trying to tell her mother not to hide her involvement with Eva. In act 2 Sheila realizes what the inspector is trying to do. ” No, he’s giving us the rope-so that we’ll hang ourselves”. (Act 2 Pages 33). Sheila realizes that even though the inspector knows everything he is trying to hear it from the Birling’s mouths. Sheila also knows that the inspector is trying to challenge the whole family into speaking the truth.
Sheila stands up for her brother Eric:” Eric don’t-don’t-“(act 3 pages 55). Sheila tries to protect her brother Eric for when he lashes out at his mother. The audience may feel that Sheila is right to do this as she is aware that her parents never think about what Gerald wants and they always do as they wish. The two characters that change the most during the play are the two young Birling’s, Eric and Sheila. They probably change due to the way the inspector creates a link between Eva smith’s death and them.
The inspector reinforces them into becoming mature through thoughts, actions and the story of a local women’s life. Even though Eva Smith had all the links with the Birling’s the only two people that didn’t change was Mr. and Mrs. Birling. These two do not appear to change in their personality or behavior although the inspector does try to open their minds up, but in actual fact they cannot change. The inspector rounds up everything for when he says:” we often have more influence on the young”. (Act 3 pages 55). After reading ‘An Inspector Calls’ it is clear that the inspector is a very special and different character.
During this play the questions that he asks the Birling family and Gerald croft was very effective as each and one of them which made one of them regret the name of the inspector also hints the audience as ‘Goole’ is meant to be something connected with ghost and spirits. This word also resembles with ghouls. When Sheila heard that inspector Goole wasn’t a real inspector, she said “(bitterly) I suppose we’re all nice people now. ” Bitterly shows that she’s being sarcastic, and she didn’t mean what she said, she meant the opposite.
She said this because when they said the truth about everything it makes them nice people, but it doesn’t, and she thought that they all were a nice and a perfect family, but her thoughts were wrong after she heard what everyone in her family had done. Sheila’s character changed from a girl who had a perfect life, to a caring girl. She couldn’t keep the truth from the inspector because he seems to know it already. Throughout the last few lines when Sheila understands the supernatural she thinks the inspector was quite good and she likes him.
This is probably due to the fact of how the inspector has opened her and her brother’s eyes and how they have been taught that money and status is not everything as there are more important things such as love, rights, honesty and most of all trust. At the end of the book in Act 3 the actress who is playing Sheila should be delightful happy and persuasive due to what the inspector has done for her as she should also be pleased for her brother as he was the only other person that changed throughout the family.
The actress must remember to be alert whilst the inspectors around, to be happy and overwhelmed by the engagement ring and to be argumentative towards her parents whilst she is sticking up for her brother. The costume she may wear is something that is no expensive and something that other women would wear of a lower class as she now see’s them equal to her. She may wear a corset with a long skirt maybe something tied around her head and she would probably have to look very simple elegant but sophisticated. Thank you for reading this letter. I look forward to meeting you. Y