The attitudes of upper-classed people Essay
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These statements suggest to the audience that Sheila feels responsible for the death of Eva Smith, as she caused Eva to lose a very stable job. The attitudes of upper-classed people at this time, was of power and greed for their own self-confidence, with little respect for lower classed citizens. The lower class were seen as cheap labour, at the service of more important people, which Sheila realised after her interrogation.
Gerald Croft, the future son-in-law of the prosperous Mr. Birling, is the next character to reveal his revelation in the death of Eva Smith, but Gerald hides his part in the contact between himself and the young girl, denying he knew this girl, as of the case with Mr.
Birling. The Inspector reveals that Eva Smith changed her name to Daisy Renton, which caused Gerald to respond with a startled manner.
This response creates dramatic effect within the audience, as the audience convey that Gerald may be responsible also for the death of Eva Smith, creating tension for the character’s revelation.
Gerald is not open to confess his ordeal with Daisy Renton, denying he had any contact with another women, but Sheila pressurised Gerald to confess due to his startled response. Sheila uses the fact that Gerald did not come into contact with her for several weeks, as he used his business as a cover to see Daisy Renton, instead of his fiance. Gerald confesses to the other characters that he was involved with Daisy Renton, as he met her within the stalls at the Palace bar, in a situation with an unpleasant character named Joe Meggarty.
Gerald offered Daisy Renton an escape from this character, with free accommodation in a friends apartment which he was looking after, for a couple of months. This meeting created an involved relationship between these two characters, as Gerald provided her with a strong, reliable source of money and lodgings, with spare time and affection which made Eva feel special, as she believed she had found the perfect man. …”I became at once the most important person in her life-you understand?”…
This comment from Gerald creates a sense of misleading on his behalf, as the audience can piece together that Gerald may have been using her loneliness, as a chance to give into temptation, before he was married to Sheila. Gerald’s involvement in the death of Eva Smith, is a lot more complicated compared to the other characters revelations, as he provided Eva with a new life, but he also used Eva as his mistress, ending the relationship when it suited himself, degrading Eva’s confidence with the end of the relationship.
…”I didn’t feel about her as she felt about me”… This comment suggests to the audience that Gerald had no intention of having a long-term relationship with Eva, using her for passion and lust, as a last fling before he got married. The Inspector reveals that Eva had recorded a statement in her diary, which revealed that she believed Gerald Croft was the right man, with the end of the relationship as the end of her life. The Inspector reveals: …”She felt there’d never be anything as good again for her”… This comment could suggest to the audience, that Gerald was one of the main reasons for the suicide of Eva Smith, as she felt life could never be as happy again without Gerald, causing her to take her own life when life issues continued to go wrong.
Eric, the son of the wealthy Mr. Birling, is one of the first characters to be suspected in the involvement of Eva Smith’s death, as the audience notice Eric’s involuntarily response to the Inspector’s comment, as a dramatic quality within the drama, as his shocked response displays a link between this investigation. (Act One)…”(involuntarily) My God!”… This is linked to the anxiety within Eric, as explained in the first part of the essay, as the audience piece together Eric’s involvement due to his reactions, before his interrogation. Eric first became involved with Eva, at a meeting at the palace bar in the intention of hiring a prostitute. The use of a prostitute at this time was seen as a dreadful sin, an action which would not suit the attitude of the Upper-Class.
Eric was under the influence of alcohol when he confronted Eva at the Palace Bar, he used his power and immature attitude to force himself on Eva, creating a short relationship between these two characters. Eric met Eva by appointment, finally becoming Eric’s mistress, she fell pregnant with Eric’s baby. This creates a dramatic quality within the play, as Eva is linked to Eric more strongly than any of the other characters, as she was carrying the Birling’s grandchild.
The audience first examine the fact that Eva was pregnant with Eric’s child, as she seeks help to a charity committee, which is chaired by Mrs. Birling. Priestly uses the device of dramatic Irony within this confrontation, as the audience know Eva has been in contact with Eric, as she seeks help in a pregnant state. This link between Mrs. Birling and the involvement with Eric, suggests to the audience that Eva is carrying Eric’s child, a situation which Mrs. Birling would not approve of, in the view of her son.
Eric provided Eva with a source of money, as what Gerald Croft had done, but this source was stolen from his father’s business funds, as an attempt to provide Eva with a stable financial background. This factor suggests that Eric cared for Eva, as he tried to support her with the stability and power which he held as a son of a prosperous business man, he did not deceive Eva. Eva ended the relationship, as she found out that Eric had stolen the money, Eric did not let Eva down so the audience feel sympathy for Eric, as he was displaying care for Eva’s welfare. The blame for Eva Smith’s death does not fall on Eric’s involvement on a large scale, as he tried to support Eva through his wealthy background, to try to resolve his immature input.
Mrs. Birling, the wife of Mr. Birling and the mother of Sheila and Eric, finds herself included in the revelation of the death of Eva Smith, as the Inspector reveals to the audience that Eva seeked help to the charity chaired by Mrs. Birling, as Mrs. Birling turned Eva away, due to her prejudiced attitude of the Lower-Class. Mrs. Birling denied her part in the revelation, at the start of the interrogation, with a paranoid response to the Inspector’s photograph of Eva Smith. …”No. Why should I?”… This response from Mrs. Birling suggests to the audience that she is included in the revelation, as her paranoid feelings reveal an un-easy conscience.
Mrs. Birling rejected Eva Smith’s claim for charity purposes, as Eva addressed herself as Mrs. Birling, which caused Mrs. Birling to reject her claim. This rejection of the claim was caused by Mrs. Birling jumping to conclusions, as she did not analyse the full facts of why Eva Smith needed a charity claim. Mrs. Birling believed her family were the most important part of the society, as she was self-centred around a perfect family, Eva Smith was using the Birling name without respect, causing Mrs. Birling to take action.
…”I think it was simply a piece of gross impertinence-quite deliberate”… Mrs. Birling used her views on what should happen to the man involved with Eva Smith, as a contradiction to her views of her own family, as Eric is the man which was involved with the pregnancy of Eva Smith. This is used as a dramatic quality within the play, as Mrs. Birling uses her views to place a verdict on the man, which is known to the audience as Eric. Priestly has used this as dramatic irony, as Sheila tries to persuade her mother not to continue with her statement,
…”Certainly. And he ought to be dealt with very severely-“… (Sheila with sudden alarm)- …”Mother-Stop-Stop!”… This statement suggests that Mrs. Birling feels strongly for the punishment of the young man, but she does not realise it is her own son who was involved, with her grandchild’s life at risk. The audience convey that Mrs. Birling believes punishment is fit for the young man involved, but she would not punish her own son in this way, creating a one-sided view from Mrs. Birling.
In conclusion, I believe Mrs. Birling has the majority of the responsibility for the death of Eva Smith, as she refused a charity claim, which could have prevented Eva from taking her own life, and the death of the Birling’s grandchild. Mrs. Birling was the last person to come into contact with Eva Smith, which could have been the main reason for her suicide action, but all the revelations of the characters could have caused emotional pain for Eva, with the responsibility held on all five characters.
The characters revelations were caused for different reasons, as the male characters used their power as influential men of society, to use greed and power as a main factor. The female characters used their status as upper-classed women, to use their power over lower-classed people, in an act of revenge and jealousy. The comfort that the audience have when leaving the theatre, is that both Sheila and Eric have learnt from the revelations which caused the death of Eva Smith, unlike Mr. Birling and Mrs. Birling, who feel that their responsibility is not to blame for the suicide of Eva. The audience take on board that the character’s are all to blame for the death of Eva Smith, with their own opinion on who is most to blame for the death of this young women.