Eric is not even as caring as Gerald was, he abused his power as a man, taking advantage of her vulnerability and getting her pregnant. He then proceeded to try and make up for his wrong doing by stealing money from his fathers business to help support her. On finding out what he was doing, Eva refused the money and disappeared from Eric’s life forever. Mrs Birling was the second to last to have her involvement with Eva Smith revealed by the inspector’s questions.
Being a lady married to a Birling she had already used her name to have herself made a chairman of a charity committed to helping women in trouble. As a last resort Eva had turned to this charity pleading for help. But after lying to Mrs Birling about her name, instead calling herself Mrs Birling. Mrs Birling was already prejudiced against her case, and made sure that Eva Smith received no help from the charity. She was in a position of social responsibility that she could abuse only thinking about her own name being used unauthorised.
Priestly chose a wide range of ways that the Birling family affected Eva Smith, so that the audience could see how many different characters could be affecting someone’s life forever without their even realising it. These actions are such different scenarios for this encounter, but each has its own significance The behaviour of each family member was under severe scrutiny by the inspector and the individual’s actions were all up for judgement.
Sheila for one had her happiness destroyed as well as her faith in her family. Each individual was not only under scrutiny by the inspector but by there family as well. There individual behaviours have an affect on Eva in different ways. Mr. Birling and Sheila left her without any form of occupation or income. Eric and Gerald both got involved with her emotionally and Eric left her pregnant whilst Gerald left her heartbroken. Mrs Birling, at the height of social responsibility, leaves her without a home, support, or any from of income, therefore by now she has no one to turn to and in her own opinion no other options but suicide.
The Birling plot is superficial and Priestly has merely used this to alert others and get across his points about social responsibility. The inspector is only on one level, he can be seen as an inspector or on another level their own conscience to help make the family admit they are not perfect and do not think about the consequences of there own actions when interacting with others. Once the Inspector leaves the house and the Birlings find out he was not a registered inspector, they assume because their reputation has suddenly been taken back to it original state that there is absolutely nothing to worry about. But Eric and Sheila are not so eager to forget and find their parents attitude amazing as well as become concerned that they have not learned anything from this episode.
By revealing the involvement of the several characters the theme that social responsibility should not be abused is reinforced. All other factors such as the inspector and Eva Smith can be forgotten but one fact remains and that is that all of them have been inconsiderate and selfish in their treatment of Eva Smith. Which could easily have resulted how the inspector described, a death by drinking disinfectant on the way to the infirmary. So, priestly explores the issue of social responsibility using this theme and idea, which is reinforced, by the use of several characters under different circumstances.
This play was written in 1945 within a week of world war two ending but set in the year of 1912. This was Priestly’s way of expressing a sense of urgency which he thought necessary to pass on to society so that they would not forget what had just transpired and take heed. It is his way of expressing his socialist views. To explore the issues of social responsibility within this play, Priestly has thought about the plot structure and how he has chosen to set out his dialogue. It is clearly divided into three acts.
The first act is the initiation of the play. Its opens and immediately we are told who the characters are, the Birlings, where they are, in a large suburban house, and what they are doing, celebrating the engagement of Sheila Birling to Gerald Croft ‘Gerald I am going to tell you frankly, without any pretences that your engagement to Sheila means an awful lot to me.’ We instantly establish that this is a seemingly perfect family that have a good and stable life. There is nothing here to warn us of the shock of the inspectors visit.
In this first act we are soon informed a long with the Birlings and Gerald Croft that a young girl, named Eva Smith has committed suicide, by an inspector who arrives shortly after Mr.Birling issues advice to his children and son-in-law to be. Our attention is being focussed in on the Birlings and it also gets us thinking about how they both have affected someone so badly. So it is here that we begin to think about how they both should have been more socially responsible. There is nothing to allow the audience to be distracted from the central theme so there is no sub-plot; it is a very compact structure.