An Inspector Calls is a play written by JB Priestley. The play discusses issues such as morality, respectability and the role of women. Within the play Priestley preaches his social views that “we are all part of one body” and reflects them as the role of the inspector . The play follows the Birling family and indeed Gerald Croft and discusses there role and reaction to the suicide of a lower class women Eva Smith. A key point that the play highlights is how willing they are to make changes, to adjust and repent .
Dramatic and chronological irony is created as the play was written in 1945 and set in 1912 . It therefore allows the audience to form decisions about the characters retrospectively . In this essay I will be discussing how women are portrayed and the actions of women throughout the play. At the beginning of the play Sheila acts in a materialistic and stereotypical manner. An example of this is when she receives the ring from Gerald she states “it’s perfect now I really feel engaged”.
This implies that the physical gift is the most important aspect which is an immature attitude towards marriage. In addition Sheila becomes upset and overwhelmed quite often, it is a stereotypical view of women to be oversensitive . This can be seen when the comment is passed to Sheila “you’re behaving like a hysterical child tonight”. Finally her actions towards Eva Smith branch from her own child like insecurities. She also uses her class to her advantage and due to the social prejudice that middle class have over lower class women Eva is sacked.
When Was Aic Written
However creating a character with Sheila’s qualities creates a starting point, a motive and catalyst for change. In addition ,we can see within this time women conformed to the attitudes and actions of men. One example of this is when Mrs Birling states “when you’re married you’ll realise that men with important work to do sometimes have to spend all their time and energy on their business. You’ll have to get used to that just as I had”. From this speech the role of a women in this time period is clear, to abide by the mans business and ethics .
On the other hand Sheila replies “I don’t think I will”. A change of attitudes can be seen within the younger generation and furthermore in the way she reacts to the inspector. In addition whilst Gerald is confessing his affair with Daisy Renton he claims it was “inevitable” that she should become his mistress this shows a lack of respect for women in their own right and that they are objectified. Furthermore ,Sheila is seenas venerable and her parents wish to protect her from the truth. For example it is often said in the play “Miss Birling ought to be excused”.
Moreover the family asked for Sheila to be excused from Gerald’s confession; this is ironic as she is the person who will benefit from listening the most as Sheila says “your forgetting I’m engaged to the hero of it “. Despite this Sheila learns the value of honesty confessing to Gerald “infact I respect you more than I did a few hours ago” . Therefore it can be seen that women were seen as defenceless and that they needed guidance. Moreover ,by the end of the play Sheila gains independence from her parents she forms her own opinions and her own response in relation to the inspector.
She becomes frustrated at her parents passionately stating that their “pretending things are just as they were before” . It is at this point that we can see the journey that Sheila has made from girl to women . Her positive role offers hope for women of the future as she is member of the younger generation . Finally, it can be seen that young men do not treat women with respect. For example Gerald claims it was “inevitable” that Daisy became his mistress, we learn of Aldernam Megarty notorious womanising and Eric got Daisy pregnant and tried to marry her.
Despite this Daisy manages to uphold moral values for example she did not marry Eric as she did not love him as the text states “she said she didn’t love me and all that ” . Furthermore she did not accept stolen money . She also was a “ring leader” at Mr Birling works . This shows that despite being a woman and of the lower class she has managed to provide more areas of respectability than the entire Birling family who obtain positions for example the head of a charity.
In conclusion, the view of women in this time period was very dim . They are often objectified and mistreated by men. On the other hand hope is offered in the form of Sheila and Eva Smith as both make strides in improving themselves and upholds moral values . However it has been proven that morality is not directly proportional to respectability as Mrs Birling is stuck in her ways and although occupies important role is not willing to feel guilt or take blame.