All questions on English literature

Who is to blame?

In J.B. Priestley's play, "An Inspector Calls", we learn that a number of characters have contributed to the suicide of Eva Smith. Who do you think deserves the most blame and why?

Hi, personally I do not think that one specific individual is to blame, however if you look the idea that every action has a consequence then I would say that Mr Birling is to blame. He was the first person to let Eva down and therefore the chain of events with the rest of the family etc started with him.
02 July 2013
In Priestly's play, An Inspector Calls all of the Birlings and Gerald Croft can be blamed for Eva's death to some extent.  Each of the character's actions contribute to Eva (or Daisy's) eventual suicide.  What is more important is how each of the characters react to the discovery of their actions; the younger characters Sheila and Eric learn from their mistakes but the older characters Mr and Mrs Birling and Gerald (representative of the monied upper classes) feel that their behaviour does not matter if it is not publicly revealed. Priestly implies that there is hope for us as a society if we learn from our mistakes but those in charge tend to be more interested in their own preservation than those of the common man or woman (hence the name Eva Smith).  
29 September 2013
To add to this, link Priestley's socialist views to the messages in his play of social repsonsibility
29 September 2013
Your question would seem to  presume, using the concept of 'blame; here,   a fixed moral universe where what is  right or wrong can be read of a list. Ethics and religious belief  show  us a that humankind has come up with a variety of positions over what is ethical,  or not, so a clear answer might be not possible. Each  observer of this play will portion blame (ie  make a moral judgments) in different ways, I would proffer.
01 October 2013
I feel that the author is trying to get across that every character is to blame no one single character. And how many little things can add up to one huge thing and how you should be responsible for your actions. But if I had to blame one character I would blame Eric as he is the more immature or the characters and he did effectively rape Eva Smith. 
04 October 2013
Probably leaning towards Sheila. She was the most immature one of the group imo, and ruined everything. It's understandable, albeit cruel, that Mr.Birling let her down, but business is business and it is what it is. If I recall right, it's not even like she was left without money. Sheila just got her sacked out of sheer pettiness.
08 April 2022
In my opinion, I think Sybil Birling is to blame for Eva's death. This is because Sybil looks upon the working class with utmost disgust and calls Eva's death "absurd business". Furthermore, Eva seemed as if she had hope of turning her life around. However, upon getting rejected by Mrs.Birling, she seemed to have lost all hope that anyone would help her, as Mrs.Birling is annoyed with Eva Smith, which ultimately lead to her demise.
18 April 2022
Mr. Birling and Shiela, in my opinion, are the key ones to blame for Eva Smith's death. Mr. Birling is  partially to blame because he initiated the series of unfortunate events. He was simply being a "practical man of business", and Eva would not have been able to secure a better job at Millwards if he hadn't done so. Shiela Birling, on the other hand, sacked her from Millwards solely because she was prettier than her.Her feeling of jealousy had aroused her to convince Millward's manager to sack her,going as far as to threaten them to never shop there again unless they sack her.Considering she is a frequent and loyal customer, they do what she requests, resulting in the departure of that "pretty, lively-looking girl."
18 April 2022
I would say its Mrs. Birling as she didn't provide the help/money when Eva needed it very desperately as she was pregnant but instead she was chased away and was told that its the fathers responsibility. The unborn fetus may have been her last hope of living which has been so after getting rejected by the committee she had nothing to do. The father was Eric who according to Eva is not responsible enough and she just cant tell Mrs. birling about this as she knows that this will make Eric's life hard and disrupt their family relationship. So with no other choice she decided to take her own life as well as the baby's and not wanting be anyone else burden anymore, this is also the reason why she has rejected when Eric tried to give her the stolen money. This also shows that despite being in such a hard situation she still cared for Eric and didn't want him to get into any trouble because of her
Penguins go weeee......
21 April 2022
its defo eric man, i mean cmon the dude couldn't even take care of his first son. Like bro this man just shoved his gf down the pipe.it was very unfatherly. Eric most likely is the most guilty and this is something he wont forget for his whole life.
27 April 2022
Eric 100 percent. lost his first son due to his stupididty.like bruh this man couldnt even take care of eva properly.defo the most guilty.
27 April 2022
Add an answer

Similar questions

What is the purpose of literature in our society?

Why is the purpose of literature?

In order to answer this question, let’s define our terms. What is literature and, specifically, what is English literature? Literature as defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica is quite simply a ‘body of written works.’ This includes works defined in the table below.  

Novel A narrative in prose
Novella A narrative in prose that is shorter than a novel
Play A piece of dramatic literature, which is performed
Short Story A narrative in prose that is shorter than a novella
Poem Uses figurative language and sometimes has a rhyme

  English literature is still literature - however, it is any work specific to the British Isles that was written anywhere between the 7th century and the present day. So, when you take any English literature courses, keep in mind that you will be narrowing your study to English literature books. Take a look at the timeline below to see some notable works!   literature_timeline As you might have guessed, English literature is considered as different from literature in the English language. The table below holds some other types of literature in the English language.  

American literature Literature from the US
Canadian literature Literature from Canada (non-French)
Australian literature Literature from Australia, including Aboriginal English
New Zealand literature Literature form New Zealand

  So now, what is the purpose of literature? Specifically, English literature? Without literature, there is no history. Not only did early works of literature provide first-hand accounts of historical events, but they also capture entire eras: popular culture, societal norms, and more. literature_importance  

How does literature affect our life?

If you’ve ever been interested in pursuing an English literature degree or want to find an English literature university specialization - you might be asking yourself this question. Let’s start by looking at the different categories of literature: categories_literature Within these categories, you can find the following genres:  

Fiction Short stories, myths, novels, novellas
Non-Fiction Autobiographies, speeches, essays, diaries
Drama Comedies, tragedies, pantomimes, melodramas
Poetry Poems, pastorals, lyrics

  So, let’s start with something the majority of people can relate to: lyrics. There is a reason why heart-wrenching ballads are so great to listen to during a bad breakup, or why certain songs can take you back to a moment in your life. Songs are the soundtrack to our lived experiences, and the techniques employed by lyricists can be considered literary techniques.   genres_literature You’ll find literature in the present day affects our lives mainly as a means of entertainment: from classic plays to binge-worthy series to stories shared at the dinner table. While this may seem like a modern-day tendency, the truth is literature has always been a means of entertainment.    

Greek Tragedies 5th century Euripides, Sophocles, Aeschylus
Shakespeare Plays 17th century Tragedy, tragicomedy comedy
Netflix Series 20th, 21st century Films, series, etc.

  Literature also affects language. When it comes to English literature especially, Shakespeare is said to have contributed about 1,700 words and about 40 different phrases to the English language. Take a look at some below!  

Words Invented Phrases
Laughing stock Eyeball
Dead as a doornail Puking
Fair play Obscene
In a pickle Marketable


What can literature teach us?

Keeping in mind that all of these questions could be answered differently depending on who you ask, we can generally split the teachings of literature into three main categories.   skills_gained_literature Let’s explore each of these categories in-depth.  

Personal In the form of catharsis, as a kind of therapy, gives you insight into personal events in your own life, etc.
World events Historical accounts of socio-cultural and economic events throughout history (i.e., 2008’s Great Recession, the Zoot Suit riots, etc.)
Hard and soft skills Can give you detailed instruction on a variety of topics: programming, directing, communication, etc.

  In other words, literature can teach us about ourselves, about the world and about a wide variety of skills.  

What are the benefits of studying English literature?

The benefits of studying English literature can be divided depending on the type of person who is studying. If you’re a student who isn’t interested in specializing in, for example, an English literature Cambridge program - you might be more interested in knowing how to revise for English literature.   If you’re interested in studying English at uni, you might be more interested in English literature graduate jobs. Let’s start with the first case   The benefits of studying and reviewing English literature for your class, even if you’re not particularly passionate about literature itself, are many.  

Benefit 1 Develop critical thinking skills
Benefit 2 Improve writing skills
Benefit 3 Keeps the brain stimulated

  While the above are benefits everyone can take advantage of, let’s take a look at the benefits of being an English literature major.  

Benefit 1 Can help you stand out in any industry
Benefit 2 Can be used as a creative outlet
Benefit 3 Opens up a wide variety of careers (translator, writer, editor, etc.)


What skills do you gain from studying English literature?

Now that we’ve talked about the influence that literature can have on personal and professional life, let’s discuss the benefits of studying literature. In other words, the importance of literature review with regards to building skills.   When you talk about the skills gained from studying English literature, it is necessary to look at the common assignments you’ll have to complete that will help you perfect these skills.  

Assignment Description
Research Paper English literature courses will require you to complete some sort of research paper. This includes: argumentative, critical, persuasive, etc.
Terms You will need to study and understand the literary terms used the most: metaphor, hyperbole, ekphrasis, climax, alliteration.
Tools You will need to study and understand the literary devices used in literature: allegory, epigraph, foreshadowing, juxtaposition, etc.
Reading In any English literature class you will have to complete reading assignments.

  When you’re studying literary terms and devices, reading books and completing research papers - you are actually polishing skills that will become very useful in the future. Take a look at just some of the skills you will develop while completing any of these four elements. literature_work