1 Sheila Birling is the daughter of Mr
and Mrs Birling and sister to Eric.
She is engaged to Gerald Croft.
1.1 She is initially pleased and excited at
the prospect of her marriage.
1.2 She is distressed when she hears that
a young woman, Eva Smith, has
taken her own life.
1.3 She reveals that she was
responsible for Eva Smith's
dismissal from Milward's shop.
1.4 She recognises Inpector Goole
cannot be lied to.
1.5 She breaks off her engagement to
Gerald when she discovers he had
an affair with Daisy Renton.
1.6 She reveals that Eric
drinks too much
1.7 She acknowledges her part in Eva Smith's
downfall and takes the Inspector's words
2 From all the characters, Sheila changes the most. She is greatly troubled
when she realises that her petty jealousy at Milwards meant such hardship
for Eva Smith. She respects Gerald's honesty about his affair, but also has
the courage to break off the engagement.
3 At the beginning of Act 1, Sheila is lively, chiding Gerald: "I should jolly well think
not" Although he protests that Gerald neglected her the previous year, her overall
mood at this time is carefree. This allows Priestley to create a dramatic contrast in
Sheila's mood after the inspector arrives.
4 Sheila feels shock at the death of a
young women, revealing that she can't
imagine someone not having a lot to
4.1 "Oh - how horrible! Was it an accident?"
4.1.1 Shows her naivety to assume that
someone could drink a fatal amount of
disinfectant "by accident"
5 Although bitter, her curiosity needs to be
satisfied and she is strong enough to hear
the full story.
5.1 "I wouldn't miss it for worlds"
5.1.1 Reveals her bitterness at Gerald's affair.
6 She is strong enough to accept responsibility for what
she has done and to feel regret.
6.1 "I had her turned out of her job"
6.1.1 Shows she can confront her bad behaviour,
7 Sheila believes that it doen't matter
whether the Inspector is a real police
officer or not. She is only concerned that
they all harmed someone.
7.1 "it's you two who are being childish - trying not to face the facts"
7.1.1 She recognises her parents fault and their failure to acknowledge them.
8 At first, Sheila is playful and egotistical, but becomes serious
and troubled at the news of a young woman's death. She
questions her own behaviour and regrets her treatment of
Eva Smith. Sheila also fully accepts the Inspector's words and
is distressed when her parents do not.
9 "I went to the manager of Milwards and I told him that
if they didn't get rid of that girl, I'd never go near the
9.1 Sheila went to Milwards and she was in furious
temper and told the manager to get rid of Eva Smith.
9.1.1 Sheila used her family name (power) to get rid of Eva Smith.
10 "What - what did this girl look like?"
10.1 Shows that Sheila is very eager to find out about Eva
Smith's death but he isn't aware that she has something
to do with her death.
11 "No, not really. It was my own fault"
11.1 Sheila feels guilty about Daisy Renton's
death and accepts responsibility.
12 Sheila is presented as Priestley's voice.
13 Her views are contrasted with typical upper class views.
14 Her views contrast in
15 She is presented as a
warning to others.
16 Sheila becomes stronger and
copes with Gerald's affair.
17 Sheila sees and supports the
18 Sheila is truthful in her responses
19 Sheila is prepared to criticise her parents
20 Sheila's comment, "What do you mean by saying that? You talk as if we were
responsible" is ironic because the audience suspect that the Birling's and Gerald do
bear some responsibility for Eva Smith's death. Through these words of Sheila's,
Priestley alerts the audience tot he possibility of the characters' involvement.
21 The Inspectors Bluntness and unsparing criticism of Sheila's behaviour
does not make her dislike or disapprove of him. On the contrary, she is
drawn to him and stares at him, "wonderingly". His mysterious
presence affects her and she finds that she agrees with his view. The
audience is witnessing how the Inspector is influencing the young.