“Who Do You Think Is Most Responsible for the Death of Eva Smith?”

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“Who Do You Think is Most Responsible for the Death of Eva Smith?”

In the play “An Inspector Calls” in Act Three, the Inspector tells the Birling family, “The girl killed herself and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it.” The idea of the play, and particularly the role of the inspector are to try to bring the Birling family to understand that they have a moral responsibility for the death of Eva Smith, not a legal one. The story begins when the mysterious Inspector Goole calls unexpectedly on the prosperous Birling family; his startling revelations not only shatter the very foundations of their lives but also challenge us all to examine our consciences.

It is set in pre-World War One Britain, but was written in 1945, which enabled Priestley to use dramatic irony as a way of highlighting the ignorance of the Birling family.

Firstly, it could be said that Eva Smith was simply a victim of her class and time, but Birling started all of her misfortune by firing her from the factory for asking for a bit more pay. Birling could have easily avoided sending a poor girl onto the streets, by paying her employees about an extra two shillings a week only.

Sheila got her fired from a job she probably must have enjoyed more than any other job just because she had the power to do so. “I went to the manager of Milwards and I told him that if he didn’t get rid of the girl, I’d never go near the place again and I’d persuade mother to close her account there” this witty passage implies that she uses the power she has to do whatever she wants and people of a lower class e.g. workers will have to listen to her.
Mrs Birling could have helped her but she turned her away

it must be remembered that the Birling Family are guilty of no actual crime, although all have contributed to the downfall of a particular person...
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