An Inspector Calls: Analysis Of Sheila

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J.B Priestley presents Sheila as ‘A pretty girl in her early twenties, very pleased with life and rather excited ‘through the stage directions in Act 1 in the well-made whodunnit play of An Inspector Calls through the unities of time, action and place. Predominantly, one may argue that looks can be deceiving as in Act 1 she is forced to portray a quite boring and unlikeable image; a stereotypical ‘Rich daddy’s girl’ . One can infer that the denotation of ‘Pleased’ means satisfaction. Through this, one can further deduce that Sheila has lived a luxurious life as a middle upper-class woman therefore she is pleased, unlike Eva who came from a poor working-class background. Sheila and Eva are binary opposites. One may also contend that Sheila shows ignorance of her actions and inability to see past inequality and mistreatment. The adverb ‘very’ modifies ‘pleased’ and almost emphasizes her ignorance of the real world. This reference gives the implicit suggestion which indirectly gives pathway that Sheila seems to be living in a bubble, as the setting of the play from a suburban house doesn’t change. Sheila represents the impressionable and malleable youth and also symbolizes the infancy of feminism, the process of being led mindlessly by a patriarchal structured society.

Priestley presents Sheila as jealous through the discerning reference of ‘miserable plain little creature to affect the readers in the following ways. Predominantly one may argue that Inspector Calls doesn’t just voice a political message but also acts out a moral message to the liberal audience of 1945. One may contend that Priestley quite cleverly uses the 7 deadly sins to present the well-made whodunnit play in this manner. One could suppose that Sheila’s character is built up through authorial intent as Priestley uses her as a prawn to get his message delivered. He successfully deconstructs her character by metaphorically burdening her with the sin of envy. This is evident because she gets Eva fired during the scene when Eva looked prettier in the dress that she wanted to buy. Here she shows her spiteful behavior, which the audience could perceive to be her immaturity and lack of understanding of the social divide. It is integral to affirm that the noun ‘creauture’ is used to dehumanize Eva and portray Sheila’s jealousy because it shows how Sheila bases her perception on Eva’s external features as she is more beautiful. The fact that Sheila acknowledges that Eva is more beautiful than her, further fires up the jealousy that she withholds, as this dehumanizes her ego and pride that she carries. One may also ascertain that Sheila successfully aligns herself with Eric and Gerald, who also dehumanized Eva.

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Priestley presents Sheila as materialistic. This is evident from Priestley’s manipulation in the dialogue ‘Now I really feel engaged’ to affect the readers in the following ways. Predominantly, one may argue that Sheila places importance on the ring, as it is a symbol of her engagement to a man of high class, which also inevitably raises her status in society. One may also contend that Sheila requires materialistic proof to physically identify her love, showing that she also advocates the corresponding selfish materialistic perspectives and capitalist ideologies as her hubris father. Taking a detached critical overview of the play, I can critically infer that, the ring conveys both materialism and class, rather than the true notion of love. This is successfully advertised as “Sheila kisses Gerald hastily”, which implicitly gives the implication that there is a lack of romance. One could also demonstrate that Sheila is very much obsessed with her materialistic ring because her name is a homophone for ‘shield her, with the implicit suggestion which corroborates that she needs protection from her materialistic and ideal world. The social and historical backdropped has directly influenced me into suggesting this because we as the modern audience know that women during the Edwardian Era were highly manipulated and taken advantage of by men. They were seen as weak and sex slaves for rich aristocrats. 


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