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"An Inspector Calls" By J.B.Priestly - the character of Birling

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"An Inspector Calls" By J.B.Priestly J.B.Priestly's aim in writing "An Inspector Calls", was to show how the rich disrespect the poor. To place shame on the rich and prove you cannot hide behind money and titles, Priestly is attacking rich people's attitudes towards the poor, not how much money they have. By using the character of Mr Birling, he shows the audience how they can sometimes resemble him. Priestly asks the audience how they treat the poor and see if they understand how selfish they are towards them. Priestly does this through Mr.Birling's self interest and pride. Priestly already explains how the Birling family are before one word is spoken. In the stage directions we discover that the family are not warm or loving: 'The general effect is substantial and heavily comfortable, but not cosy and homelike.' Their house reflects their relationship. They do not have a cosy and homelike relationship but they have a comfortable and substantial connection. They disregard truth and honesty; they only care about their appearances. This also continues with Mr.Birling, Priestly describes Birling in the stage directions: 'Arthur Birling is a heavy looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech.' ...read more.


If we were all responsible for everything that happened to everyone we'd had anything to do with, it would be awkward wouldn't it?' Even now Mr.Birling is refusing to accept any responsibility for Eva's death. He is to selfish to realise, that he played apart and does not respect that Eva has died, and he has acted vain towards the whole situation. Mr.Birling inability to accept any responsibility for his actions automatically apposes Priestly's view on life. Priestly hopes for a world where people help each other out, but Mr.Birling contradicts this view. This is not the only reason he is disliked. He is disliked because he is a hypocrite, he tells Eric to face up to his responsibilities: 'It's about time you learnt to face a few responsibilities.' It seems ironic that he wants Eric to learn to deal with his responsibilities, when he won't learn to deal with his own. The audience feels like Mr.Birling thinks he is better than his past actions. Showing how selfish and desperate Birling is. Mr Birling believes that his social status offers him the opportunity to rule over a situation. He is arrogant and believes he is above other people. ...read more.


This causes annoyance and frustration. Then another call tells us how a girl has died and an inspector is coming around. The audience's reaction is just simple joy. You feel the frustration lift, the potential anger disappear and it is replaced with relief and satisfaction. At the end of the play I had definitely decided Mr.Birling is dislikeable, and was pretty surely the most dislikeable character over all. There are many reasons to suggest the he is just the worst of many evils, but his refusal to accept any responsibility for Eva's death proves that he is generally selfish. He has no remorse for his actions showing how involved he is with hi future and how he can benefit himself. He is a head figure of a large household who should have achieved more. Disapprovingly selfish as a father and overly controlling as a boss, he shows how vain and self-serving he definitely is. Priestly used Birling to make a point, and needed Birling to be the most dislikeable character. Making Birling selfish and arrogant ensures the audience will dislike him. Birling is an insolent character, the way he ignores his actions and refuses to accept any responsibility for his consequences ensures that the audience will dislike him. This ultimately ensures Priestly's point about treatment towards the poor is certainly received. ...read more.

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