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Examine the character of Arthur Birling at the beginning of act one in 'An Inspector Calls'

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Introduction

Examine the character of Arthur Birling at the beginning of act one in 'An Inspector Calls' JB Priestly wrote the play of 'An Inspector Calls' in 1945 but set the play in 1912, Edwardian Britain. The writer intentionally set the play in 1912 to make the audience aware of social conscience. Another reason why the play was set in 1912 was because, some of the historical events mentioned in the play, the audience would be familiar with as they would have lived through the time and would know the real results of how they ended and what the causes were because the era from which he set was very different to when he wrote the play. In the play, when these events are mentioned, Arthur Birling says the opposite to what actually happens such as when Birling said there would be no war, world war 1 started two years later and world war 2 ended in mid 1945; there were sturdy comparisons and discrimination between the upper and lower classes in the 1912 era but the class distinctions had significantly reduced in 1945 as a result of two world wars; the ruling classes saw no necessities in changing the status quo but ...read more.

Middle

The characteristics of his roles are those such as, he is hard-headed and practical, which he admits himself when he has a conversation with his wife, Mrs Birling, and son Eric; 'I'm talking as a hard-headed, practical man of business.' Arthur Birling has become an increasingly self-centred man. Ever more, his ego has enlarged after there being an opportunity of him being put on the honours list to be knighted. The main characteristic of Arthur Birling, which occurs throughout the play, is his selfishness and uncaring personality. This is part of the message J B Priestly is trying to give out to the audience not to ignore the situations around you and the feelings of others, regardless of your status or wealth. He had no conscience of how he unfairly sacked the girl who had an unhappy life with no family and no money to help her survive; all for the reason that she started a strike for a pay rise. That was the cause of the girl being sacked and the effect it had on her resulted as one of the reasons of her suicide. ...read more.

Conclusion

Arrogance is a major characteristic of Arthur Birling. When the inspector arrives to their house on the subject of the young girls death, Arthur Birling begins to get irritated with the inspectors questioning and then begins to assure himself he and his family have no part in the girl's death and so it would be necessary for the inspector to leave but then finds out he and his family played the most important part in the girls death, and even after hearing that, he still tries to turn a blind eye. Some ideas and themes J B Priestly was trying to convey through the character of Arthur Birling were Cause and Effect and Social conscience. Clues, which are given in the play to the audience about the result of Arthur Birling as the play progresses, are all found with the language Birling uses to speak about himself. Also, His characteristics show that as the story progresses, when Birling is hit with a mistake he thinks he never made, he will face a major downfall in his position in the society, and will lose respect from family members employees and everyone else who has respected him. ...read more.

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