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An Inspector Calls - I will be looking at the role of my chosen character, Arthur Birling.

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English Coursework Assignment Introduction: for this coursework assignment I will be looking at the role of my chosen character, Arthur Birling. The classification of role to me is what a character brings to a play or book, how he or she affects the play or book, and a socially expected behaviour pattern determined by an individual's status in a particular society. Arthur Birling plays a significant role in the play 'An inspector calls'. He does this by trying to be a confident and outspoken man. His arrogance is portrayed in every part of his personality. During his conversation with Gerald he clearly shows his feelings towards his future son-in-laws mother and proves what a 'pompous man' Arthur Birling can be. Although clearly happy at his daughter's engagement to Gerald, he states that he knows Lady Croft feels that Gerald might have done better socially, indicating that her son could have married into a better family. He then goes on to criticise openly about Lady Croft's background. This indicates his character as being brutally honest and up-front, showing an uncaring attitude towards people. Arthur Birling's pomposity and self-centred arrogance is again shown when he brags on about his up and coming knighthood and his connections with 'Royalty', expressing that he was 'Lord Mayor' for the area he lived in and he and his family are 'well behaved' which should get him this knighthood (which he feels he rightfully deserves!). ...read more.


The offering of a 'Cigar' to Gerald who politely declines the offer, which leads Arthur to state 'you don't know what you're missing', indicates that a good cigar is smoked after a meal by a prosperous businessman. In turn, Arthur's character constantly pushes his experience into the faces of people younger than him. The character portrayed as Arthur Birling in the play is that of an extremely overbearing and somewhat bossy person. This is evident through his relationships with his wife, daughter and son and to some extent with Gerald and the Inspector. He sees himself as the provider; a man with far more experience than everyone else put together in the household and always patting himself on the back for being a 'hard-headed business man!' During his discussion with Eric and Gerald on the issue about women and clothing, Arthur quickly brings the whole situation to himself. He states that 'you don't know what boys get up to these days' aiming clearly at the two young men sitting beside him. 'They have more money to spend and time to spare than I had when I was Eric's age' These comments suggest that Birling sees his own son as a lay-about who spends his money and has nothing better to do; this has in effect caused some problem between father and son. ...read more.


Arthur expresses that the marriage between his daughter Sheila and Gerald will enable Birling and Crofts to expand. The social/historical values he represents: Arthur Birling's character within this play expresses clearly that 'the rich should stay rich and the poor should remain poor'. Being obviously from an upper middle class himself, Birling's feels that the social and class barriers within the society can not be passed. In his opinion, Russia is seen as a 'behindhand' country. As a communist country everyone is seen as equal in Russia. For Arthur this is basically 'wrong', as poor could never be equal to the upper or middle classes in society. From Birling's point of view every other country is progressing or developing, 'in a year or two we'll have aeroplanes that will be able to go anywhere' he states to the two young men. He then goes on, speaking about the advancement in the automobile industry and the launch of the Titanic. Birling's feelings and capitalist attitude is expressed again in his reaction to the death of one of his 'low paid employees' Eva Smith. He disagrees with the creation of the 'Trade Unions', where a 'group of individuals' cannot in Birling's opinion 'encourage people to strike' and 'ask for more pay and equality'. Seeing that his workers were starting to stand up to Birling, he decided to sack the small number of Unionists, which clearly shows his uncaring employer attitude towards his workers. By sacking these people Birling keeps the 'labour cost down'. ...read more.

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