An Inspector Calls

The daughter of Mr. Birling and Mrs. Birling, Sheila is a young woman in her early twenties who is generally excited about life and is engaged to Gerald Croft. She is most upset by the news of the girl’s suicide, and expresses the most remorse among the Birling's for her involvement in it. Throughout the play, she warns her mother against presumptuously putting up walls between themselves and the less fortunate girl, and, in the end, insists that it remains just as significant that the Birlings did what they confessed to doing despite the absence of a social scandal and legal consequence, or even any suicide.

Sheila Quotes in An Inspector Calls

The An Inspector Calls quotes below are all either spoken by Sheila or refer to Sheila. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dramatists Play Service, Inc. edition of An Inspector Calls published in 1998.
Act 1 Quotes

There’s a good deal of silly talk about these days—but—and I speak as a hard-headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he’s about—I say, you can ignore all this silly pessimistic talk. When you marry, you’ll be marrying at a very good time.

Related Characters: Arthur Birling (speaker), Sheila, Gerald Croft
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

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I can’t help thinking about this girl—destroying herself so horribly—and I’ve been so happy tonight.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

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Inspector: There are a lot of young women living that sort of existence, Miss Birling, in every city and big town in this country.
Sheila: But these girls aren’t cheap labor. They’re people.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Inspector Goole (speaker)
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 2 Quotes

Miss Birling has just been made to understand what she did to this girl. She feels responsible. And if she leaves us now, and doesn’t hear any more, then she’ll feel she’s entirely to blame, she’ll be alone with her responsibility.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Sheila, Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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I don’t dislike you as I did half an hour ago, Gerald. In fact, in some odd way, I rather respect you more than I’ve ever done before.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Gerald Croft
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

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We’ve no excuse now for putting on airs.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker)
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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Act 3 Quotes

There’ll be plenty of time, when I’ve gone, for you all to adjust your family relationships.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Arthur Birling, Mrs. Birling, Sheila, Gerald Croft, Eric
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

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This girl killed herself—and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it. But then I don’t think you ever will.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Arthur Birling, Mrs. Birling, Sheila, Gerald Croft, Eric, Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

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If all that’s come out tonight is true, then it doesn’t much matter who it was who made us confess.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker)
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sheila Character Timeline in An Inspector Calls

The timeline below shows where the character Sheila appears in An Inspector Calls. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...a large man with provincial speech; his wife is cold and her husband’s “social superior.” Sheila, the daughter, is in her early twenties and appears to be excited about life. Gerald... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Sheila mentions, as an instance in which Gerald had seemingly opted out of membership in the... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Eric begins to laugh uncontrollably and rises from his chair. Sheila inquires what he is laughing about, and he replies that he just felt the need... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Mrs. Birling and Sheila object to Arthur’s discussing business on such a night, so Arthur raises his glass. They... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...that there’s been a lot of “silly talk” around lately, but he encourages Gerald and Sheila to ignore all the pessimism and to rest assured that the notion that war is... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Mrs. Birling leaves with Sheila and Eric, who is whistling “Rule Britannia,” and Birling sits down with Gerald. Birling tells... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...Eric, then asks the Inspector what happened to the girl after he let her go. Sheila enters the room; when her father tells her to run along, the Inspector holds her... (full context)
Class Politics Theme Icon
...reminds the family that many young women are similarly suffering in their underpaid labor positions. Sheila objects that the working girls are people rather than cheap labor, and the Inspector agrees.... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Sheila asks what the girl looked like, and then sobs and leaves the room when the... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Sheila re-enters and asks the Inspector if he knew all the time that she was guilty.... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Sheila explains that she had told the manager of Milward’s to fire the girl, threatening that... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Gerald pleads with Sheila to not mention that he knew Daisy Renton, and Sheila laughs and insists that the... (full context)
Act 2
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...the door, and then enters the room and looks expectantly to Gerald. Gerald suggests that Sheila should be excused from the proceedings, but she insists on staying for the rest of... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
When Sheila again insists on staying, Gerald suggests that she only wants to see someone else go... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...to the Inspector that the family will not be able to assist him any more. Sheila begs her mother not to act so stridently and risk saying or doing something that... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Mrs. Birling suggests that Sheila go to bed, because she won’t be able to understand the motives of a girl... (full context)
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...his excitable mood. When she explains that her son isn’t used to drinking so much, Sheila corrects her by revealing that Eric has been consistently over-drinking for the past two years.... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
...if he is going to at all. The Inspector insists that Eric wait his turn. Sheila provokes her mother, “You see?” but Mrs. Birling doesn’t understand. (full context)
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...Gerald is speaking of Alderman Meggarty, whom she had always thought respectable, but Gerald and Sheila confirm that Meggarty is a renowned womanizer. (full context)
Public versus Private Theme Icon
Gerald apologizes to the Inspector, but Sheila insists that she rather more deserves the apology. The Inspector asks firsts whether the girl... (full context)
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...by the proceedings, Gerald excuses himself to walk outside and be alone for a bit. Sheila returns her engagement ring to him before he leaves. She respects him for his honesty,... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...it, but Gerald interrupts that he doesn’t think so, before he walks out the door. Sheila points out that the Inspector never showed Gerald the picture of the girl, and the... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
...responds that the Inspector was never asked to talk to Mr. Birling about his responsibilities. Sheila contributes her feeling that the Birlings no longer have a right to put on airs.... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
...the more devastating fact that the girl had also been pregnant when she killed herself. Sheila is horrified and asks how the pregnant girl could have wanted to commit suicide; the... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...to go appeal to the child’s father, as providing for the child was his responsibility. Sheila tells her mother that she thinks what she did was “cruel and vile.” (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Sheila cries out “Stop” to her mother, and asks her if she doesn’t see what’s going... (full context)
Act 3
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...of the room and asks if they know. The Inspector confirms that they do, and Sheila reveals that their mother placed blame on whichever young man got the girl into trouble.... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
...there to “solicit.” He went back to her place that night. At her father’s insistence, Sheila removes her mother from the room. Eric continues: he saw the girl a number of... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...refused to see him afterward, but then he asks how the Inspector had known that. Sheila reveals that Mrs. Birling sat on the committee that assessed the girl’s need for aid.... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Sheila is left crying, Mrs. Birling is collapsed in a chair, Eric is brooding, and Birling... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Sheila is upset that her parents are acting as though nothing has happened. She then wonders... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...or who matches his description. Birling exclaims that this makes all the difference, and again Sheila and Eric insist that it doesn’t. Birling reasons that the inspection was probably set up... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...matter. Eric responds that his problem is rather that he’s taken too much interest, and Sheila joins him in this sentiment. Mr. Birling and Mrs. Birling voice their desire to “behave... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Gerald proposes that the one fact that Eric and Sheila are assigning great significance—that Eva Smith is dead—may not even be a fact after all.... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Gerald, Mr. Birling, and Mrs. Birling relax at this news and pour themselves a drink. Sheila refuses to celebrate, and continues to claim that what has happened remains important, and that... (full context)
Class Politics Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...is on his way to ask some questions. The Birlings stare “guiltily and dumbfounded.” As Sheila rises to stand, the curtain falls slowly. (full context)