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Essay/Term paper: Essa

Essay, term paper, research paper:  College Papers

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J.B. PRIESTLEY
Who is to blame?

The play has seven characters and is set in 1912. The whole play is
conducted from the Berlings dining room that is in an industrial city
called Brumly in the North Midlands. The play opens with the Berling
family celebrating Shella's engagement to Gerald Croft who is also at
the party. We see that Gerald and the Berlings are fairly wealthy
because they can afford to have a party unlike most people at that
time. On page 11 the Inspector is introduced and commences to tell the
Berlings that "two hours ago a young woman died in the Infirmary" . The
young woman was dead because she had drunk some bleach. Suicide was
suspected. Her name was Eva Smith. He starts his investigation by
questioning Mr Berling and slowly works his way through the family,
including Gerald.

Mr Berling is the first person the Inspector confronts with the
responsibility of the young women^s death. Mr Berling is the type of
character that thinks that Titanic is unsinkable and that there will
never be a war which is a dramatic irony. Eva had been employed at Mr
Berlings factory but had been sacked for leading a strike to get the
workers more pay. At first Mr Berling will not accept responsibility
which is shown when he says "Still, I can't accept any responsibility.
If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everybody
we'd had anything to do with, it would be very awkward." Mr Burling
shows in this way, that he has a lot of power to say if the workers
have a steady income or not and does not care about the consequences.
The Inspector thinks that Mr Berling is partly to blame for Eva being
so depressed that she killed herself. ^She was out of work for the
next two months. Both her parents were dead, so that she^d no home to
go back to. And she hadn^t been able to save much out of what Berling
and Company had paid her. So that after two months, with no work, no
money coming in, and living in lodgings, with no relatives to help her,
few friends, lonely, half-starved, she was feeling desperate.^

The second person questioned by the Inspector was Sheila who is the
only one who does accept some of the blame. Sheila is a young woman who
tends to over-react to things. Sheila is engaged to Gerald. When she
thought that a dress looked better on Eva than it did on her she became
very angry. This was clearly shown when she says "When I was looking
at myself in the mirror I caught sight of her smiling at the assistant,
and I was furious with her. I'd been in a bad temper anyhow." Sheila
shows she has a lot of power and wealth when she tells the shop's
manager that if he doesn't get rid of her then she'll stop coming to
the shop and will persuade her mother to close her account with them.
After Sheila had got Eva sacked from Millwards she became a prostitute
which is a horrible occupation for any woman especially if she has been
forced in to it.

Gerald is the kind of character that is strong-willed and probably the
complete opposite of Sheila. At first Gerald tried to deny knowing Eva
because he got to know her while he was courting Sheila. Eva had
changed her name to Daisy Renton so no one knew her name when she was
being a prostitute. This was the time Gerald got to know her. She was
at the favourite haunt of the prostitutes, the Palacee bar, when Gerald
met her. "I met her first, some time in March last year, in the stalls
bar at the Palace. I mean the Palace music hall in Brumley-". After
they met he took her to the County Hotel and bought her a meal, this
was after she had mentioned that she had no money. Gerald, after a
couple of nights, moved her into a flat of a friend who was away in
Canada and had left Gerald the keys. At this point Eva became Gerald's
mistress and was lulled into a brief sense of comfort and prosperity
but after a while Gerald breaks it off because he is going to go on a
business trip somewhere and knows that the relationship has got to
end . He does not think about Eva's feelings. Eva spoke to Gerald as if
she had been expecting the break up for a while, "She told me she'd
been happier than she'd ever been before, but that she knew it
couldn^t last, hadn't expected it to last." It is clear that in a
short time Eva had fallen in love with Gerard, and had allowed herself
some hope. But Gerald just threw her to the curb and didn^t care that
he had probably broken her heart and that she now had no place to call
home and very little money.

When it came to Eric he told the Inspector that he had met Eva in the
Palace bar and had stood her a few drinks, so he was not to sober when
they left. He insisted on going into her room ^I insisted- it seems.
I^m not very clear about it, but afterwards she told me she didn^t want
me to go in but that- well, I was in that sort of state when a chap
easily turns nasty- and I threatened to make a row^. After awhile Eric
found out that Eva was pregnant ^And the next time- or the time after
that- she told him thought she was going to have a baby. She wasn^t
quite sure. And then she was.^ After he found out that she was pregnant
he asked her to marry him but she said that she couldn^t because he
didn^t love her and she couldn^t marry some one like that. Eric had
been giving her money that he had stolen from his father^s study but
when she found out she started to refuse his money so he broke it off.
Eric could be blamed for giving her a baby and then leaving her to deal
with it and for making her feel unloved.

Mrs Berling was the prominent member of the Brumley Women^s Charity
Organisation that helped women that came to them for help. Two weeks
before Eva killed herself she had gone to the organisation at which Mrs
Berling worked and on this day was the Chairperson. When Eva introduced
herself as Mrs Berling (taking Eric^s name) the real Mrs Berling took
it as an insult and was prejudiced against Eva. The Inspector asked
her ^ Was it owing to your influence, as the most prominent member of
the committee, that help was refused the girl?^ As she was talking to
the Inspector she said that whoever made Eva pregnant should be made an
example of, ^ I blame the young man who was the father of the child she
was going to have. If, as she said, he didn^t belong to her class, and
was some drunken young idler, then that^s all the more reason why he
shouldn^t escape. He should be made an example of. If the girls death
is due to anybody, then it^s dues to him^.


In conclusion I think that the whole party is to blame because they all
had a hand in making Eva^s life a living hell. You could blame Gerald
for breaking her heart or you could blame Mrs Berling for giving her
the final push or you could even blame Eva herself for thinking there
was no other alternatives. I could say that society had a large part in
her death in the way we make people think and the way that at the time
there was such a class separation that even people of different classes
couldn^t get married. So as the Inspector says in act 2 page 56, ^We
don^t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for
each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if man
will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and
blood and anguish. Good night^.


 

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