Mr Birlings first priority is to make money.
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Mr Birling's first priority is to make money. "It's my duty to keep the labour costs down" He does this because he is trying not to give too much money away, but instead, trying to keep the bulk of it for himself. Mr Birling is a wealthy, pompous man who loves to show off his good fortune to other members of the community who he is trying to impress. You could say he was ostentatious. He is a prosperous owner of his factory, Birling and Company. "...a self-made man..." He started his business from nothing and worked his way up, until he was a wealthy man. This explains to us that he made himself what he is today through hard work. Mr Birling strongly believes that in order for a man to become successful, he has to start from the bottom and make his way to the top. "a man has to make his own way."
He only tells Gerald this as he hopes that when Gerald lets his parents know, they'll be deeply impressed, and not so against Sheila's marriage to their son. Mr Birling has an honest approach to life. You see this when he is telling the Inspector that he wouldn't listen to Eva Smith's demand for a higher wage. "...I refused of course..." He believes that he did what any businessman would do in that situation, fire the cause of the problem. Mr Birling refuses to accept any responsibility for Eva's death. He becomes increasingly annoyed by the Inspector's questioning and by Eric's unsympathetic attitude towards his decision. "...I don't see that it's any concern of yours how I choose to run my business. Is it now? It might be, you know. I don't like that tone." This shows that the tension is growing rapidly in the room. Mr Birling is becoming quite aggressive. This might be caused by the fact that he is slightly frightened by the Inspector.
He is oblivious to all the disgraceful things that his family have done. When it appears that the Inspector might be a fraud, he is happy to believe that everything is as it was a few hours ago before the Inspector came. "...it matters a devil of a lot. Makes all the difference." He mimics the Inspectors and accuses Sheila and Eric of being "the famous young generation who know it all." This is an example of pride before a fall, as a moment later, when the phone rings, he is panicking. Mr Birling represents the author's hatred towards businessmen who think about nothing but making money. He will never alter his ways and it is left to the younger generation to learn form their mistakes. Mr Birling is very optimistic about the future, yet we know that what he predicts will no come true. "What about war?...The world's developing so fats it'll make war impossible...the Titanic...unsinkable..." This is a fantastic use of dramatic irony. We know a lot more about what is going to happen than the characters. This inject an aspect of humour into the play.
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