I am writing to you about a film I would like you to play a part in. It’s called An Inspector Calls, it is set in Brumley, an industrial city in the north midlands, 1912. The play is about a young woman named Eva Smith who commits suicide after an unfortunate line of events. An inspector talks to the whole family one by one as they are all involved one way or another. Priestley was trying to show his audience that we can not go on being self obsessed and should think how our actions affect other people. He uses the Birling family as an example of a capitalistic family in the upper class in 1912, who had no care for other people.
Shelia is a pretty girl 22 years old, she doesn’t have a job as her parents (Mr. Arthur Birling and Mrs. Sybil Birling) are quite well off. In act one Shelia beings the play as a self-centred and likes attention. She recently got engaged. When she is first shown the picture of Eva Smith she recognises her with a little cry and then runs out of the room, as she is upset that she played a part in an innocent girls death. Shelia first met Eva when she was at Milwards to try on some dresses for a party she was going to. As she tried on a gorgeous dress she caught sight of Eva ( who was working at Milwards at the time, as a shop assistant ) she saw Eva smiling at the other shop assistant as if to say ” doesn’t it look awful “.
This just made Shelia loose her temper, as she was already in a bad mood that day, so she went straight to the manger and told him this girl had to be sacked otherwise her and her mother would close their account with them. She wouldn’t have cared, its just Eva was so pretty with her big dark eyes, and the dress looked perfect on her. She was just jealous of Eva and acted out of jealously and petty spite. Sheila almost respects the Inspector’s way of handling things and begins to see the world according to his values. She was rather concerned for Eva and couldn’t believe she partly caused her suicide also she was genuinely upset about the death of Eva and how she was involved.
During the second act she learns of everyone else’s involvement in the case. When she sees Gerald’s reaction to the name Daisy Renton she knows straight away that Gerald had some history with the girl. Gerald says that Shelia only wants to watch him being asked questions so she can watch some one else go through it, this obviously offends her and she questions whether Gerald really knows her. She hears Gerald’s questioning and soon finds out that Gerald met Eva in the palace bar one night after going to watch a show. He went down and had a few drinks, and noticed Eva as they started talking she gave him a false name so he new her a Daisy Renton. After hearing all this she breaks of her relationship to Gerald as she thinks she doesn’t know him any more.
When inspector Goole questions Mrs. Birling Shelia discovers that Eva went to her mother for help and appealed to Mrs. Birling’s charitable committee because she had now money and no place to stay and she was pregnant. Mrs. Birling used her power over the committee to have Eva’s case refused and when Shelia discovered that her mother had been so cold she was outraged. She thought what her mother did was cruel and vile, especially as Eva was pregnant. When she realised that Eric was the man who had got Eva pregnant and tried giving her stolen money she was quite understanding of his involvement. During this act you can see Shelia growing as a character and in a way changing. She has been quite helpful to the inspector and sort of looked up to him in a way by agreeing with everything he says and answering all questions even if they weren’t directed at her.
In act three Shelia’s attitude has almost completely changed she says she’s behaved badly and she’s ashamed of it. When the inspector left Shelia was the first person to question whether he was a police inspector or not, she doesn’t seem to care if he was a fake because she believes it should have made them all realise what they had done wrong and change but the only people who did realise what had gone wrong and the only people who had actually changed where her and Eric. She believes that the truth came out that night and made everyone confess and that is the only important thing that happened that night, not whether or not the inspector was a police inspector or not. When Shelia talks to certain people she is a confident speak ” I should jolly well think not”, this shows she’s not afraid to stand up 4 her self or against other people.
She asks a lot of questions and had a great deal of curiosity about the case “What was she like?”, “Was she young?”, “What was her name?”, these quotations show that she is eager to know all the information that people will tell her and she wants to know everything. When you play Shelia when you talk about Eva you should sounds slightly distressed and concerned, “Sorry its just I can help thinking about this girl destroying herself so horribly”, she obviously is in a great deal of distress when she talks about Eva and thinks about her death and how she was a part of it. Also she questions her fathers decisions a lot “I think sacking her was a mean thing to do”, “These girls aren’t cheap labour they are people”.
When your playing Shelia you must remember that during act 1 you should be quite snobby and self-centred as Shelia only thought about her self and she was a jealous character. During act 2 you can start the see the changes so don’t forget to start being more sympathetic towards other peoples stories involving Eva. In act 3 you can she that the change in her attitude is complete as she learns her responsibilities of others less fortunate and is sensitive towards others and their feelings. Also I think you should wear a dress of that period or something along those lines to do with the upper class fashion during 1912.