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I can't find examples of how Gerald, Sheila and Eric show selfishness throughout the...

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azzyj | Student, Grade 10 | Salutatorian

Posted November 20, 2011 at 1:11 AM via web

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I can't find examples of how Gerald, Sheila and Eric show selfishness throughout the play. Can anyone help me please?

I know how they are self-centred, but I can't find any striking quotes to support my ideas. The actual task is: How does Priestley criticise the selfishness of people like the Birlings? Give examples of the language used.

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kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 31, 2012 at 9:33 AM (Answer #1)

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Gerald’s treatment of Daisy Renton (as he knew Eva Smith) was much better than that of the Birlings in that he rescued her from the slimy clutches of Alderman Meggarty, got her food and gave her a place to live when she was penniless. His real selfishness is shown at the end of the play, when he triumphantly reveals there to be no real inspector and no dead girl. Despite the emotional turmoil he and Sheila have been through in revealing their cruellest and most selfish acts, and Gerald revealing his affair with Daisy, he believes that they can return to the mood at the beginning of the evening-

 Everything’s all right now, Sheila (holds up the ring.) What about this ring?

Sheila has been too affected by the events of the evening to respond. She is most changed by the revelations of her connection with Eva Smith and her part in her death. She was jealous of Eva’s good looks, and the fact she suited a dress Sheila had chosen far more than the conceited Miss Birling-

 If she’d have been some miserable plain little creature, I don’t suppose I’d have done it.

Eric has been a selfish child, stealing from his family and living without any responsibility – even for himself. He meets Eva at the Palace Bar when he is drunk, and he insists on going back to her place-

Afterwards she told me that she didn’t want me to go in but that – well, I was in that state when a chap easily turns nasty – and I threatened to make a row.

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