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Asked by Sophie

How does Priestley present Sheila in ‘An Inspector Calls’?

Hi, Sheila is initially presented as quite a naive and spoilt young woman whose only role in life is to be seen as a dutiful future wife to Gerald Croft. We learn she, too, has had a hand, in the demise of Eva Smith and it was for a petty and shallow reason - she resented Eva for looking prettier than her in one of the outfits and believed Eva was laughing at her as she tried clothes on. Her complaint about Eva led her to being dismissed from her job. However, Priestley believed the younger generation had, in their hands, the ability to change the world for better, to help society become far more socially conscious of each other (he was a socialist). So, along with her brother, she admits her wrongdoing, sees the error of her ways and shares the responsibility of Eva’s death by the time the whole story has emerged. It is she who urges her parents to take some responsibility for Eva and, when her parents and Gerald think the inspector was a fake, is dismayed to see them return to the original self satisfied and selfish attitudes of the start of the play. The return of an ‘Inspector’ is the reminder of the need for change or events will just repeat themselves and we won’t learn from our mistakes. Hope this helps.

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