Aim: To find out what the opinions of the audience are of two characters before, during and after the inspectors visit. The characters I will be looking at are Mr. Birling and Sheila. Mr. Birling: At the start he seems very loud and talkative. An extremely posh man by today’s standards. He’s very big headed and thinks the world of himself and his family. It’s easy for the audience to see he’s the head of the household and he has a very strong impression on what goes on inside the family. On the arrival of the inspector he seems very impatient, and has a “What’s this got to do with me?
” kind of attitude towards him. He appears not to know anything and doesn’t want to be associated with the investigation. The audience would see him as being very defensive about his reputation and we can see this when he tries to intimidate the inspector by telling him his position on the bench. Also, he is very keen to tell him that Gerald’s father is Sir Gerald Croft. This has no influence on the inspector and Birling is aware of it. The audience can see him as being very agitated and is in a state of disbelief when his own son is found out for stealing money from his office.
He then becomes, understandably, very angry with his son. Mr. Birling’s attitude changes greatly once the inspector has left and everyone has been found out about their part in this series of events. He understands what has happened but doesn’t want to face the facts and agree he or anyone else was in the wrong. He wants to pretend that none of this has ever happened. He is more worried about his reputation and his chance of knighthood than he is about anyone else and is seen as being very stern and strict toward Eric for stealing the money.
To conclude, we can see that the audience’s opinion of Mr. Birling changes greatly throughout the play as he has to accept what happened. Sheila: At the very start of the play, when they are all sitting down at the table, everyone is in high spirits and Sheila seems a very lively and fairly polite young lady. She is told a couple of times by her mother to shut up or calm down, which indicates she is not a very strong character. It would seem that she doesn’t always stand up for herself and often does what she’s told without question. She also appears as being a bit immature for her age.
The inspector arrives when she is out of the room so when she finally comes back into the scene she isn’t expecting him to be there. She is however, intrigued by his presence and wants to find out more. The audience can clearly see that she’s like the others at the start because she doesn’t like the way she, or anyone else, is being accused over the death of the young woman but she is also seen as being the most understanding of them all. Once the inspection is underway and everyone is found out for their part in the woman’s death, she tries to stop her mother, for one, from dropping herself in it.
Her mother isn’t listening and she falls into the same trap the others did. Sheila is the first to notice what the inspector is doing and turns around the audience’s opinion of her being quite stupid into being extremely smart and the only one to have worked everything out. The inspector leaves and she is still reminiscing over what happened. She is the one who tells the others what he was doing by not accusing them but by getting each one of them to confess their part in the chain of events that led to the death of the victim.