Mrs Birling context and analysis

  • Created by: simrik
  • Created on: 03-05-22 15:39
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  • Sybil Birling
    • Symbolises uncaring nature of capitalism "But I accept no blame for it at all"
      • She has no guilt for the death of her grandchild but maybe if her grandchild was from an upper class woman then she would show more guilt
    • Symbolises pride- It is a morality play
      • Priestley wanted his 1945 audience to vote Labour because the Labour manifesto wanted to instate a Welfare State
      • By placing Sybil last he wants to show how the charity was a last resort for Sheila, as well as a last resort for society
      • He wanted to portray how unreliable the charities were which is why they must rely on the Welfare State which came into action in 1945
    • Symbolises class prejudice "girls of that class"
      • Priestley does not present Sybil as corrupt. Anyone who would have been in her place at the charity would be prejudiced against someone who is repeatedly lying. Lying for money can be seen as fraud so her reaction is perfectly reasonable
    • The name Sybil comes from Sibyls in Greek mythology who were prophetic and could see all truth. This is IRONIC because Sybil in the play is presented as being blind to the truth. "I don't believe it.. I won't believe it"
      • Knows nothing about Alderman Meggarty's attacks on women, Eric's drinking, Eric and Eva's relationship and of course the pregnancy
      • The 1945 audience would be very well educated in Greek and Roman mythology.
      • She is BLIND ON PURPOSE and if she saw society differently she could have been the one to save Eva
      • She expects Sheila to turn a blind eye on Gerald's infidelity "just as I had
      • Women in this patriarchal society are made to accept the injustice of men- Sybil isn't just prejudiced... she is a VICTIM OF SOCIETY
      • The first Sybil asked the God Apollo to grant her immortality. He does so, but makes her extremely old and gives her immeasurable knowledge about the future. So the lesson learnt here is really, 'Be careful what you wish for'. In parallel to this, Mrs Birling is constantly blaming the boy who got Eva pregnant, telling the Inspector to go after him. But she doesn't realise that, the boy is her own son Eric. She isn't careful about what she wishes for.


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