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Sheila Birling

Daughter of Arthur and Sybil Birling. She appears to accept some of her parents attitudes in the
beginning of the play. Later, she questions the way in which she has been brought up. Priestly
develops his theme of responsibility most clearly though the character of Sheila.

a pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited
Appears as if she has lived an untroubled life to this point in time
Daughter of a wealthy industrialist. Her life has been one of ease and pleasure with very
little concern for the world outside her social circle.

- Child like dependence, contrasted with Eric who addresses Sybil Birling as mother

purple-faced old men

- Shelias way of speaking contrasts with Arthurs ponderous style
- Refers disparagingly to those who know about ports

Squiffy, chump
- Highlights her modernity and suggests how she is somebody with a wider outlook than
her parents

What is this about streets?

Oblivious about how the working class live

What business? Whats happening?

- Unlike other young women, she shows signs of curiosity in the appearance of the
inspector, and is willing to find out about the situation.

Oh- how horrible!

- Genuinely immediate response to the suffering of another human being
- She can be sympathetic towards those who are less fortunate, and is capable of

But these girls arent cheap labour- theyre people

- Displays a sense of responsibility that the upper class should have towards the working

As the play develops, she is presented as a character who is willing to embrace change.
- She moves towards a position of greater independence
- She is prepared to challenge Gerald about what he was doing last summer, and states
clearly that she will not get used to Gerald abandoning her for work
- She resents attempts to protect her, or to shield her from recognizing the reality: Why
should you? Hes finished with you. He says its one of us now.
It was my own fault, Ill never, never do it again to anybody.
- She had Eva Smith sacked because she was jealous of how she was pretty and better
suited to a dress
- She is horrifically ashamed of her actions, and feels extreme guilt and responsibility
- She accepts that she took advantage of her social status to have Eva Smith sacked without
considering the consequences
- She has conscience, and is capable of remorse and of acknowledging guilt.
- Contrasts to Mr. Briling, who only tries to evade the blame
- She gains the knowledge that she has responsibility for others and maintains this
throughout the play

And I hate to think how much he knows that we dont know yet. Youll see.
- Able to see a deeper purpose in the inspectors visit, other than the investigation of a
- Warns her family, as she understands that avoiding the truth is useless
- Realizes that she cannot avoid as the inspector has insight to everything already

When Gerald reveals that he had an affair. She is surprisingly calm and sensible. Her maturity is
clearly portrayed: I rather respect you more tan Ive ever done before,,
- She suggests Gerald to bring their relationship to a close, but suggests a new one which
honesty and trust is present
- Refuses to return to the way things were

It frightens me the way you talk. pretend that nothing much has happened.
- She becomes more rebellious against her parents, and sees them in a new light.
- She is unable to understand how they have not learnt anything from the event
- Her sense of guilt and responsibility is deliberately contrasted with the refusal of her
parents to acknowledge the wrongdoing and impact of their actions on others.
- Is able to judge her parents and Gerald from a new perspective.
- Her social conscience has aroused and became more aware of responsibilities.
- Appreciates Inspectors view of society.