In an Inspector Calls, the power surrounding women is made prominent throughout by Priestley’s strong themes. He shows that men have a lot more power than women, but when women use their power, it is used in a strong manner and this is evidently portrayed by Priestley. Act 1 shows the great weaknesses in women, as all the female characters we are introduced to, show no signs of being strong or having a voice.
The first and foremost, most powerful woman we meet is Mrs Birling, who is firstly known as Mr Birlings ‘social superior’, which shows she is above many people. Mrs Birling only ever thinks about how she looks socially and what people think about her. Therefore, she joins the ‘Brumley Women’s Charity Organization’ and becomes a ‘prominent member’. Once we find out what has happened between her and Eva, she then gets worried about how she is going to appear to everyone else and the papers, as she may not be as powerful, meaning she loses her social status.
Mrs Birling also explains how she would have taken control of the situation by confidently saying, ‘I’d have asked him a few questions before I allowed him to ask us any’. This means that she was willing to use her power, if she could have, to make someone realize how strong she was. After the Inspector leaves, she yet again wants to handle the situation which shows that she is a capable woman who wants everybody to look up to her, even in extreme circumstances.
The amount of power that women have is very clear when we meet a ‘pretty girl in her early twenties’ called Sheila, who appears to be rather weak to start off with. As we go through the acts, we learn how influential Sheila really is and isn’t as dumb and weak as initially thought. He acts 2 we see how Sheila is linking all the events ad wants her mother to stop talking and so she speaks up by saying ‘Mother-stop-stop!’. This is one of the first points in which Sheila is shown as powerful around the other characters.
In acts 2 we also learn that Sheila has a lot of strength over marrying Gerald as we find that she doesn’t want to marry Gerald, so she returns the ring to him. ‘I think you better take this with you’, meaning she has a voice and she isn’t afraid to use it. Sheila also has masses as power as she even manages to get Eva fired for being a ‘very pretty girl’ wearing a dress that ‘suited her’. It was obvious that Sheila was annoyed that the dress didn’t look good on her, but did on Eva, so she fired her for laughing, and this demonstrates how strong-willed Sheila really is.
However, as the play continues, we learn that Sheila does regret her actions of firing her and get extremely upset about it upon hearing that Eva is dead, and her actions led her to commit suicide.
-Eva is very much the opposite of the other two women as she isn’t very powerful and gets weaker as the play goes on. We learn that she was ‘very pretty’ and she didn’t have any place to go and was powerless in ways. She hadn’t a home, couldn’t afford to eat and was often used by men. She didn’t have much of a voice especially once she left the Birling factory.
The only time Eva had any power was once she was dead and the Birling family, along with Gerald, realized what they had done to her. Once she was dead, there was nothing she or anyone else could do.
To conclude, power among women is apparent especially with Sheila and Mrs Birling who get even more powerful throughout the play. However, when power is used in a bad way, it can lead to fatal endings.