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An Inspector Calls

J. B. Priestley

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Sheila Birling

Sheila Birling

Sheila Birling

Sheila Birling

Sheila is the conscience of the Birling family. She realizes very soon after the Inspector’s arrival that her anger at Milward’s resulted in Eva/Daisy’s dismissal, and that, because Eva/Daisy went on to commit suicide, Sheila played a role in her demise. Sheila wonders how she will live with the grief her actions have caused, for herself, and of course for Eva/Daisy. She seems genuinely upset and lost, and reminds the rest of her family that they, too, have acted wrongly. She wants the family never to forget what they have done, despite their desire to proceed as though nothing is amiss.

Sheila’s position is, broadly, an empathetic one. Although she does not seem to care much for the Inspector’s implicit critique of capitalism, she does believe that humans are responsible for one another’s good will. She is despondent that she cannot undo what she has done, but is committed to the idea that the family can change going forward. She is also willing, at the play’s end, to forgive Gerald his infidelity, because he appeared to have genuinely cared for Eva/Daisy, even if at Sheila’s expense.

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