Sheila Birling

Charlotte Buckley
Mind Map by Charlotte Buckley, updated more than 1 year ago
Charlotte Buckley
Created by Charlotte Buckley about 4 years ago


GCSE GCSE English Literature (An Inspector Calls) Mind Map on Sheila Birling, created by Charlotte Buckley on 03/30/2016.

Resource summary

Sheila Birling
1 Priestley's Opening Stage Directions
1.1 "Sheila is a pretty girl in her early twenties"
1.1.1 Youth indicates innocence
1.1.2 First impression - she has led a simple, easy life implying that she is oblivious to the real world as if she is protected from what is going on outside her capitalist family's bubble.
1.2 "very pleased about life and rather excited"
1.2.1 Priestley begins with her life seeming perfect and this contrasts with the realism of life. He foreshadows that this is about to change.
1.2.2 Has no worries or troubles in life at first glance
1.2.3 First impression juxtaposes her emotions following future events in the plot
1.3 Presented as a stereotypical female in 1912
1.3.1 Priestley creates a wide range of female characters with differing social backgrounds to emphasise the class system of 1912
1.3.2 Clear that Priestley believes in gender equality
1.3.3 Her vulnerability is revealed, evoking sympathy from audience
2 Beginning of the Play
2.1 "Yes, go on, Mummy"
2.1.1 Speaks to her mother in a childish manner displaying her immaturity
2.1.2 Demonstrates their strong relationship and bond
2.2 "(half serious, half playful) Yes - except for all last summer, when you never came near me"
2.2.1 She has wise instincts and suspicions about Gerald Priestley uses her to encourage the audience to be sceptical about him Priestley gives Shelia lots of witty lines to make her appear sharp. Her wit lets her undermine the authority of others as she makes jokes at their expense
2.2.2 Proves to audience that she is not as shallow and naive as she may seem
2.2.3 Childishness may be a way to hide serious concerns about her relationship
2.3 "You're squiffy"
2.3.1 Uses slang expressions to make her seem childish and remind the audience that she belongs to the younger generation
2.4 "is it the one you wanted me to have?"
2.4.1 Pronoun 'you' suggests Gerald is in control and Sheila is aware that she is the inferior partner
2.4.2 Social context: subservient role of women during 1912 reflects society at that time Priestley demonstrates gender inequality
2.5 "Now I really feel engaged"
2.5.1 Demonstrates superficiality Attaches great importance to the ring. Visual representation of engagement outweighs her feelings of love. Expensive jewellery adds to he status. She is evidently materialistic and selfish.
3 Initial Interaction with Inspector
3.1 "What business? What's happening?"
3.1.1 Asks many questions regarding the suicide case, provoking cluelessness
3.2 "-and I've been so happy tonight"
3.2.1 Shows remorse for Eva, but also herself due to her selfish personality traits. She is incredibly sensitive to bad news but only shows consideration when she realises she is involved in the case.
3.3 "These girls aren't cheap labour"
3.3.1 She is concerned for the girl despite her lower class. She is moral and immediately shows her compassion
4 Connection to Eva Smith
4.1 Sheila obliviously complained about Eva in Milwards
4.2 "(she looks at it closely, recognises it with a little cry)... (runs out)"
4.2.1 Sheila reacts the most when discovering her involvement with Eva and exits the room in embarrassment
4.3 "I told him that if they did't get rid of that girl, I'd never go near the place again"
4.3.1 Used her power and influence as a valued customer to get Eva fired
4.4 "It was my own fault"
4.4.1 She takes full blame, unlike her parents. This shows that she has the ability to take full responsibility for her actions - a sign of maturity
4.5 "I felt rotten about it at the time"
4.5.1 She is aware that she behaved badly but she has grown up a bit since then. Priestley portrays her as a forgivable character
5 Under the Spotlight
5.1 Sheila is horrified about how her actions have influenced Eva's suicide. She is full of guilt for her jealous actions and blames herself. Priestley uses this to demonstrate that young people can learn the lesson of social responsibility and so there is hope for the future of society if younger generations can learn to look after one another, despite their class.
6 Attitude to other Characters' Involvement
6.1 To Gerald - "You gave yourself away as soon as she mentioned her other name"
6.1.1 Sheila is a jealous type, showing that she is insecure and wants Gerald's attention This could also show her maturity in some aspects as she has the confidence (that many women didn't) to stand up to her fiancee and read his body language
6.2 To Mrs Birling - "you're beginning all wrong"
6.2.1 Sheila loses her fear of going against what her mother thinks is best by gaining independence. She is embarrassed of Mrs Birling taking condescending superiority. To a 1946 audience, Priestley has used Sheila's character to represent women in 1912 who were starting to gain independence. This period featured the Suffragette movement so the 1946 audience could reflect on how roles of women have changed from submissive to independent. Role reversal and a change in power
6.2.2 "(Sheila gives a short hysterical laugh)" She is beginning to find her mother's attitude ridiculous
7 During the Inspector's Closing Speech
7.1 "(who is crying quietly) that's the worst of it"
7.1.1 Seems the most regretful out of all the characters, possibly because she could relate to Eva in some aspects
8 After the Inspector Leaves
8.1 "It's right saying that now"
8.1.1 Sheila uses sarcasm and irony to try and convince the characters that all is not well. A 1946 audience would perceive her as the most logical thinker in the group.
8.1.2 She has redeemed herself since the start of the book. Priestley has done this to make the audience feel guilty for prejudging her.
8.2 "probably between us we killed her"
8.2.1 Sheila acknowledges that she used her power to punish Eva, but she regrets her actions and is eager to learn from the consequences Sheila has moral standards and Priestley uses her as a moral judge at the end of the play as most of the other characters fail to see their responsibility Priestley shows the audience there is hope for change in the new generation
9 The End of the Play
9.1 "No, not yet, it's too soon. I must think"
9.1.1 Sheila refuses to take the ring back from Gerald. This could show she is logical and confident when making decisions, juxtaposing our first impression of her. Although she is overwhelmed by the ring at first, Sheila is mature enough to realise the consequences of marrying a man who has lied to her. Sheila contrasts with the image of a stereotypical woman in 1912. At this time, women were seen as delicate beings who should be obedient to the men in their lives. Men were seen as dominant in society with women as their possessions so they had no legal rights to money, children or land. Sheila represents how women were wanting equality and the start of the Suffragette movement.
9.2 Overall Sheila changes the most during the play
9.2.1 She realises her social responsibility and immediately feels remorse for her actions
9.2.2 Priestley makes Sheila seem young and childish at first. It makes her involvement in Eva's downfall seem like the result of jealously and immaturity. This makes it easier for the audience to forgive her.
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