Essa Essay, Research Paper


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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