On page 18,naive little Sheila brings responsibility into it. ‘What do you mean by saying that? You talk as if we were responsible she says. ‘ This is quite an interesting part in the play. Mr Birling is on one side saying: ‘We’ve got nothing to do with this and the inspector is on the other side trying to make Sheila realise that she must accept blame. It is like they are pulling heron each arm. The inspector is using wise and truthful words to win over Sheila, while Mr Birling is trying to treat both Sheila and the inspector like a business deal. The audience must be by now noticing the change in Sheila.
Maybe, they are thinking that the inspector is a nuisance and is having a bad effect on Sheila. At the bottom of page 18,much to the surprise of the middle class audience whio maybe wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing, Sheila interrupts her father. Her father cuts in when she is speaking and then she cuts in when he is talking. J. B Priestly built up this whole image of a daddies girl and the inspector has smashed it to bits. When Sheila cuts into her father and says: ‘Why should you? ‘ She has become bold. She is standing up to the menace who is her father. The inspector has made her bold enough to stand up to her father.
This is the point in the play in which Sheila finds her voice. This will surely shock the audience. Maybe, in their families, they consider their Father to be the big boss who is always listened to whatever he does. On Page 19, it becomes clear also to the audience that not only is Sheila becoming bold, but she is becoming wise as well. She is maturing and she is the first member of her family to bring the idea of responsibility into the situation and to break way from her family’s capitalist views. She says: “What do you mean by saying that? You talk as if we were responsible. ” This suggests that her guilty conscience is kicking in.
Sheila is building up her own perspective on the subject if her Father’s job and the people he employs. Sheila says: “But these girls aren’t cheap labour, they’re people. ” She is siding with the Inspector and thinking in a different way. She has a revelation that these ‘people’ have feelings and deserve to be treated equally. J. B. Priestly is getting across his socialist message as Sheila realises things that she never noticed before. The Inspector is opening her eyes, uncovering things for her, then letting her build her own opinion. During the rest of Act One, Sheila builds up a relationship with the Inspector.
He tries to make Sheila understand that she did not help to kill the girl. Not physically, but through her selfishness and envy. And it works. Sheila worries, and her guilt becomes obvious, as we see on page 22 when she comes in, closes the door and says: “You knew it was me all the time, didn’t you? ” This is a sign of guilt as she acts like a murderer ready to confess. This shows that her mind is changing and she feels terrible about her part in the girl’s life. On Page 22 the Inspector also becomes Sheila’s father figure. She begins to look up to him and starts to ask of and value his opinion.
She says: “I’ve told my father. He didn’t seem to think it amounted to much, but I felt rotten about it at the time and now I feel a lot worse. Did it make much difference to her? ” She is now seeking a second opinion, and this shows that not only has Sheila come to admire the Inspector, but that she is becoming unsure of her Father and beginning to think that maybe he is not so clever after all. By the end of Act 1, the audience see a new Sheila. Maybe not all of them fully agree with the capitalist views of the Birling family, but hardly any of them will believe that a woman should have such boldness and independence.
And they are probably all thinking that the Inspector is a nuisance with no manners and should go away. Another thing that the Inspector has influenced was Sheila’s thinking. At the end of Act 1, she is thinking like the Inspector, as we see on page 26 when she says to Gerald: “Why-you fool-he knows. ‘ And on page 40, Sheila says: “But this has made a difference. ” Sheila is changing and has noticed a difference in herself. From this point onwards, she is the Inspector’s sidekick. The two of them stand together bearing the torch of justice and trying to convert the family into a fair, socialist one.
Sheila begins to scold her parents in Act 2: “And can’t you see, both of you, you’re making it worse! ” She is confident enough to say this because her new, strong perspective has made her feel superior to them. On Page 42, Sheila even says to Mrs Birling, “Go on, Mother. You might as well admit it. ” She has become like the Inspector, trying to force out the truth. After the Inspector leaves, on pages 63 to 65, Sheila and Eric stand strong together. They are the end products of the Inspector’s hard work, going completely against Mr Birling’s statement of ‘every man for himself.
‘ Sheila is crying when the Inspector leaves because she knows that things will go back to normal straight after the Inspector leaves. Sheila is the hope for the future and continues to be the Inspector’s voice even after he leaves. She is a continual reminder to the family every time that they try to dismiss the situation. On page 71, she says: “I remember what he said, how he looked and what he made me feel. Fire and blood and anguish. And it frightens me the way you talk. ” This shows that Sheila will never forget, and in a way, this is Sheila’s version of the Inspector’s speech.
She starts controlling her Mother when she says: “Mother, she’s just died a horrible death-don’t forget. ” She is reminding her Mother using the same techniques as the Inspector does, and drawing attention away from them as a family and back to the dead girl. At this point, the audience should feeling uncomfortable and interrogated, as if their consciences are being tested, and they are under the spotlight. Although they feel nervous, they are still intrigued. At the beginning of the play, Sheila is a little child in the body of an eighteen year old. She is a ‘Daddy’s girl’ who is not worried about the future.
Selfish, envious and ignorant, she is also gullible. However, at the end of the play, Sheila is a bold woman, a protestor who knows exactly what is going on around her and what it is leading to. She is like the earthly Inspector. This gives us the message that we should all accept our responsibility for others, because all of them did something bad to that girl and killed her. Everything we do has a knock-on effect on someone else. We’re all part of a big domino set and if one of us falls down, we fall onto another domino and another, so we have to be careful what we do. The bigger the position we’re in, the bigger the effect of our actions.