An inspector calls is a morality play that challenges the ideas of an upper class Edwardian audience,preistley achieves this both through the attitudes of the play but also through his implementation of personal morals. Sheila is initially presented as the stereotypical Edwardian daughter but soon freely presents her emotions, without the need for approval from her parents. Sheila is first presented as the stereotypical daughter who conforms to the wishes of her parents, “you’re squiffy” shows Sheila being very respectful in the way she speaks, but in this still presenting her emotions without upsetting her parents.
t would be expected of Sheila to be very well spoken, “yes, go on, mummy” uses formal address terms showing Sheila’s acceptance of the fact that she must be respectful. by reading further we see that even though Sheila is initially respectful she in fact has very strong beliefs in what is right and wrong. preistley may have been attempting to show that despite the perfect image the upper class present there are in fact major flaws.
Mr birling later voices his happiness at the fact he will gain great wealth from his daughters marriage, despite the fact that marriages at that time were for wealth rather than love Sheila still resents the fact that he shows no interest in her feelings, whereas a modern father would always put his daughter’s happiness first without fail. “For lower costs and higher prices” makes clear Mr birling’s intentions clear. “Neither do I. All wrong” shows Sheila’s continuous presentation of respect for her parents, no matter what she really feels.
Priestley continues to show the facade that the upper class present, as well as the lack of love shown in Edwardian families where as far as a parent is concerned money is the most important thing in their life. Sheila is later presented with a ring to cement her engagement “is it the one you wanted me to have? ”, The use of the personal pronoun ‘you’ shows Gerald’s control in the relationship and the expectation of Sheila to follow what Gerald thinks is best, presenting the patriarchal society during the Edwardian period. Despite Gerald’s control over his fiance Sheila seems more interested in the ring.
Preistley may have been attempting to present the shallowness of the upper class society. After questioning has started by the inspector we start to see a change in Sheila’s attitudes towards the rest of her family. “Did you, dad” shows continued respect whilst still allowing Sheila to escape from the expectations she has to conform to, this is made easier due to the fact that Sheila has the inspector with her as the voice of the lower classes. Priestley is attempting to show that the lower classes are not given a voice so need the upper class to offer some level of protection.
This progresses to a more obvious display of emotion “I think it was a mean thing to do” this openly criticizes her father, something which would have been heavily unexpected and seriously punished ,with the inspectors presence Sheila can present the change of attitudes of the younger generations. Priestley was attempting to show that the change in attitudes of the upper class will not be instant; the younger generation will be the catalyst for the change in attitudes towards the lower classes.
Before the inspector entered the birling household Sheila presented herself as the perfect fiance to Gerald, despite knowing something happened during the summer she is still very reserved in what she says. With the inspector acting as a defence she begins to take on the role of the inspector, questioning him about his knowledge of Eva smith. Priestley is showing that with the restrictions that upper class parents put in place their will never be a change in the morals of the younger generations.
Although Sheila’s relationship with her mother does not seem very strong, when Mrs Birling comes to be questioned Sheila becomes very protective “no mother-please! ” the personal pronoun mother suggests a deep bond between the mother and daughter even though they appear to be very separated, despite being a mother Mrs birling would not have spent much time with her daughter as a nanny would have cared for her. Preistley may have been suggesting that despite social expectations, upper class families can be close.
With Sheila’s return of the engagement ring we see a shift in her maturity “you and I aren’t the same” this shows the catalystic affect the younger generation are having on peoples morals and attitudes towards the lower class. Priestley is suggesting that a change needs to be made, but change cannot happen due to the actions of just one person. Sheila’s maturity continues to show as she becomes very remorseful due to her actions “I behaved badly too” shows her genuine regret for what she has caused, Priestley may have been attempting to suggest that the upper class should be taking more responsibility for their actions.
Cite this How Does Priestley Present the Change in Sheila
How Does Priestley Present the Change in Sheila. (2016, Oct 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/how-does-priestley-present-the-change-in-sheila/