How does Priestley make this such a dramatic ending to the play?
The inspector just left the Birling house leaving everyone with a slight shock where they can’t still understand what really happened and if it happened was it true because all of them helped to kill the girl, the whole family was involved in the helping to kill the girl, but did the girl actually die? Was inspector actually from Police? Priestley makes a fascinating point regarding the ways people react to guilt and responsibility in the end of the play. The sense of being not guilty at all which Mr. and Mrs. Birling react is incredible. Birling, in particular, is so overjoyed and relieved that he even dares to make fun of Inspector’s final speech. The point, clearly, is that some people are always unwilling to accept responsibility such as Birling, no matter how clearly it is explained to them.
At the end of the play the Birling family is shocked they can’t believe what they heard and the family is very split up, Sheila and Gerald understand what just happened and they agree that if the girl actually committed a suicide then it was their fault “But you are forgetting one thing I still can’t forget. Everything we said had happened really had happened. If it didn’t end tragically, then that’s lucky for us. But it might have done.” Sheila has a sense of understanding of what has actually happened and that she has the guilt of taking an advantage of her higher position to make people who are working on her, to make their position even worse just by having influence over the girl who has worked all of her life, whereas Sheila has never worked in her life and all she was doing is spending money and talking advantage of her social and wealthy position “I was absolutely furious. I was very rude to both of them, and then I went to the manager and told him that the girl was very impertinent – and – “the manger has fired the girl just because Sheila felt jealous that the dress suited the girl but didn’t suit her. However, at the end of the play Sheila feels guilty for what she has done and actually regrets it.
To the end of the play Gerald wants to forget about what happened with him, he doesn’t want to accept the fact that he could of part of making the girl commit the suicide. Eventually Gerald gets some respect from Sheila and the audience for being honest about his affair. “The girl saw me looking at her and then gave me a glance that was nothing less than a cry for help.” Gerald honestly tells the story of how he met Eva. He was in the wrong to have an affair and then abandon Eva but, his use of emotive language ‘cry for help’ makes us realise that he genuinely felt sorry for her and wanted to help her. However, he still lied to Sheila and didn’t tell he the truth at the start. At first, when the truth comes out about his affair with Eva Smith he tries to avoid the subject. “All right. I knew her. Let’s leave it at that.” This proves us that he doesn’t want to talk about it a lot and he wants to forget this story as soon as possible as this never happened.
Mrs Birling was a part of killing of the girl because she just didn’t want someone to pretending to be her “Mrs Birling” her husband wasn’t happy with that as well when he heard the either “(astounded) Mrs Birling” he and his wife both didn’t like the fact that the girl pretended to be such a rich family as Mr Birling always says how he is in the rich class of people. Mrs Birling is a part of the Brumley Women’s Charity where people came when they were having a difficult time to get some help, they were provided shelter, food and help. However, when Eva Smith came and pretended to be “Mrs Birling”, Mrs Birling asked the charity to net let her into the charity and tell her to leave when she have nowhere to go, but Mrs Birling didn’t care at all and even when Mr Birling finds out for a bit that the girl isn’t dead after he calls the hospital Mrs Birling still says knowing what she has done “why shouldn’t we?” to Mr Birling idea to have a laugh over this whole situation. She doesn’t even have a sense of what she has done. Mrs Birling is very unsympathetic when describing Eva Smith’s position. “She was claiming elaborate fine feelings and scruples that were simply absurd in a girl in her position.” She assumes that just because Eva is unmarried and pregnant that she is unable to have ‘fine feelings’, a very cruel and cold opinion to have.
Mr Birling, makes long speeches at dinner about things that the audience would know were incorrect. For example, he claims war will never happen and that the Titanic is unsinkable. “And I’m talking as a hard-headed, practical man of business. And I say there isn’t a chance of war. The world’s developing so fast that it’ll make war impossible.” Mr Birling is confident that there will not be a war, saying that ‘there isn’t a chance of war’ and then repeating this idea when he considers it ‘impossible’. He is always thinking that he is right and he will never let anyone go against him, people such as an inspector. Mr Birling kicked of the cycle of the whole family’s causes to kill the girl when Eva Smith decided to go on strike because she and other workers were getting payed lower than others. At the end of the play he decides to have a laugh over the situation as well as that he is very nervous and he is scared to lose his reputation. He could care less if the girl has committed a suicide all he cared is about his company not losing the reputation because all he cares about is the money, if people will find out that because of him a girl has killed herself people won’t want to work at his factory or buy the stuff that he produces. Mr Birling is a business man whose main concern is making money. This is what is most important to him and he comes across as being greedy. “…we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together – for lower costs and higher prices.” It is clear here that Mr Birling is driven by money. The fact that he sees his daughter’s engagement as a chance to push for ‘lower costs and higher prices’ shows just how greedy he is.
Eric’s experience with the Inspector causes him great, unlike some of the other characters. Eric is just like Sheila he understands what he has done and he feels guilty. “(bursting out) What’s the use of talking about behaving sensibly. You’re beginning to pretend now that nothing’s really happened at all. And I can’t see it like that. This girl’s still dead, isn’t she? Nobody’s brought her to life, have they?”. Eric suddenly shows how he has been affected emotionally by Eva’s death. ‘This girl’s still dead, isn’t she?’ He is clearly feels the guilt and understands the situation, he can’t understand why the others don’t. He argues with his dad as well. At the start of the play, Eric tries to stand up his father but lacks the confidence to do so. After the truth about Eva Smith has come out, he has grown up enough to stand up not only to his father but to the whole family ‘I did what I did. And mother did what she did. And the rest of you did what you did to her’, the repetition of ‘I did’, ‘she did’ and ‘you did’ shows that Eric is saying how everyone is responsible for the death of Eva Smith. He describes the episode as a ‘rotten story’. Finally, Eric speaks over his father “I don’t care, let him know’, not only does he stand up to his father, he stops him trying to cover up the truth about the money.
As the Inspector delivers his closing speech, he prophesises a terrible future. He somehow knows what is going to happen. As if he is playing with the family. “And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. Good night.” When he tells the others about Eva Smith’s death he leaves in the gruesome details so all of the family is scared and at least have some sense of guilt. “Her position now is that she lies with a burnt out inside on a slab.” This is such a shocking image presented in simple language. The Inspector uses this language specially to make the family more likely to confess.