She was a good worker and a vivacious character. As a member of the Suffragette movement, she demanded higher wages for her work.
Despite, the many challenging situations that she found herself in, she was determined to keep moving forward in life by accepting any opportunities that came her way.
As both Eva Smith and Daisy Renton, she was considered to be a very pretty young woman. Unfortunately, out of sheer desperation and fear, she ended her life by drinking strong disinfectant.
- What do most of the characters admit about the victim's appearance?
- What known names did the victim use?
- Your answer should include: Daisy Renton / Mrs Birlings / Eva Smith
- What morals did Priestley want to communicate through her?
- Your answer should include: Socialism / Responsibility / Classes / Intertwined / Consequences
Only a few things are known about the victim and these are mostly revealed by the Inspector, as the people she interacted with didn’t seem to care too much about her.
Both her parents were dead and she had no home to go back to. She had no relatives to help her and very few friends, none of whom are mentioned in the play.
She was employed by Mr Birling. Later, she had a romantic relationship with both Gerald Croft and Eric Birling.
She was a lower class female who had no rights in society.
Eva Smith or Daisy Renton (who are the same person) is introduced by the Inspector. She has committed suicide by drinking strong disinfectant. This character is completely silenced by Priestley to reflect her social standing.
Her existence is told from the perspective of the Birlings, Gerald and Inspector Goole.
In Act One, she led a coup in Mr Birling’s business and insisted on a pay-rise for all machinists. Birling describes her as being troublesome, ‘lively good-looking girl – country bred’. Her plans were thwarted and she was sacked from the factory.
She was out of work for two months until she got a job at Milwards Department store. When Sheila is involved in the conversation, she is mostly concerned about the beauty of the victim, asking was she, _‘Pretty?’ . _It becomes apparent that Daisy was dismissed from the store, because Sheila was jealous of her.
In Act Two, after much coaxing, Gerald finally reveals that Daisy Renton was his mistress. He rescued her in March from an ogling old man in the Palace bar. He noticed that the victim was different to the other girls (prostitutes). He said, _‘she looked young and fresh and charming’. _Realising her plight a few days later, he felt sorry for her and decided to give her accommodation and money. They had a romantic relationship, so it could be said that Gerald made her comfortable so that he could take advantage of her.
As the last source of hope, the victim approached a charity for help. Mrs Birling remembers the victim as the working-class girl who tried to impersonate her. She admits, ‘that was one of the things that prejudiced me against her case’. Irrespective of being a prominent member of a committee, she refused to offer any assistance to the girl. Mrs Birling asserted that the girl should find the man who was responsible for getting her pregnant.
Act Three, reveals that it was in fact Eric who was responsible for getting the victim pregnant. Whilst in a drunken state, he forced himself on the girl. He tried to give her money by stealing it from his father’s business and even proposed marriage but the girl rejected all of his attempts to rectify the situation.
Eva Smith and Daisy Renton are used as symbols to drive the plot:
Eva: connotations of the first woman Eve.
Smith: common English name
Daisy: symbolises innocence and purity.
Renton: similar to ‘renting’
Everything the victim attempts to do is blocked and abused by the higher classes. Her fate is representative of lower class people who have no power and status in society.
Priestley uses her as a vehicle to reiterate the moral that there are ‘millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left’ and their lives are intertwined with lives of all, regardless of social standing.
Priestley wanted the audience to see the harsh consequences as a result of careless attitudes towards social responsibility.
He believed that Socialist ideals were the only way that reformation would be long lasting and beneficial for all.