Today I want to continue my little series on An Inspector Calls. I will be looking at Shiela Birling who is the daughter of Arthur Birling and engaged to be married to Gerald Croft. The relationship between Eva Smith and Shiela is a fascinating one.
First their lives are similar in that they are dependent upon Mr Birling. They are dependant upon Birling in different ways but one feels that if Shiela were to defy him as Eva does he would deal with her as harshly as he dealt with Eva. Indeed both are infantalised by Birling and treated less as people than people to need to fit into neat boxes.
Both Eva and Shiela are conquests of Gerald Croft. He has a love affair with the first and is engaged to be married to the second. This should bring unity between the two women who are reduced by Gerald into objects who depend on him for their status, their provender and their emotional well being.
There is no unity between the two women, which is the point of the play. There is no class solidarity but rather a battle of status between Shiela and Eva over looks which Eva can only lose with damaging results leading her into Geralds orbit and then into prostitution.