How is Sheila bad tempered and self-centred? (I need quotes mainly)
My actual essay task s to explore the generation gap between the characters, but with Sheila, I can't explain how she was before the revelations influenced my the inspector.
1 Answer | Add Yours
At the beginning of the play, Sheila is childish, and we immediately pick this up as, at the start, Sheila is 'very pleased with life and rather excited'. This shows she hasn't really experienced anything terrible, unlike Eva Smith, and this is why she is childish - she doesn't think that people could be living like Eva Smith. We also know she's childish as she calls her mother 'Mummy' and we get the impression she always listens to her, as later in the play when Sheila confronts Mrs B not to tell the Inspector she knows nothing of Eva Smith on page 29, 'No, Mother - please!', Mrs B says 'What's the matter, Sheila' with "great surprise". She isn't used to seeing Sheila act against her, which must show that Sheila has little independence before the Inspector arrived.
Another childish aspect of her is that, although she never told Eric off for being drunk, she hinted it, 'You're squiffy'. She is trying to tell her parents what Eric has been doing, but we see that she is not entirely like a child however. A child would tell of a person straight away, so we can see she is slowly growing up. Also 'squiffy' is an expression that 'girls shouldn't pick up', which shows us that, perhaps Sheila isn't as abiding as she seems.
Being childish, generally brings being self centred. And there are quotes that support this, such as on page 3,
Sheila: (half serious, half playful) Yes - except for all last summer, when you never came near me, and I wondered what had happened to you.'
Sheila wants all the attention from Gerald, and - although we know what had been going on with Daisy Renton - he could have been busy at the works, for all Sheila knew. This shows that Sheila doesn't think much about others and that she is self centred because, again, he could have been busy. This also shows her bad temper - she wants things to go her way. At the very start:
Sheila: (gaily, possessively) I should jolly well think not, Gerald. I'd hate you to know all about port - like one of these purple-faced old men.
Firstly, note the stage direction 'possessively' hugely shows her temper
She is basically ordering Gerald what not to be, which shows her bad temper. This also comes for her childish being, but, since everything usually goes her way, we don't see much of this side. Of course, it hugely shows when Sheila got Eva Smith sacked, and, when she realised the consequences, her character changed. Her and Eric seem to be the only ones who still feel guilty when Gerald and the Birling parents have rang up and heard nobody died in the Infirmary. They have been changed because they know that there are still a lot of Eva's and John's out there who still live this life - and they know that their character could have affected their lives. Birling acts differently towards this - he doesn't think anything he has done really counts towards others beings. He does not feel responsible at all, which is part of being capitalist. When the phone rings at the end, and we discover she has died, it makes socialism seem in the right at a hugely tense point: in this way, we believe Birling is in the wrong, which degrades capitalism. This is the generation gap between Sheila and Mr Birling - Sheila feels responsible, and changed her ways, but Birling still believes he is right. Obviously this has been building all the way through - when he repeated the Titanic was unsinkable, world wars would never happen, etc.
Okay realised I've gone off on a tangent I'll stop now xD
Hope it helps ;D
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes