Eric and Mr Birling comparison

Authors Avatar by suwarnag (student)

Consider the 2 characters. Why has Priestley presented them that way?

Eric is quite an awkward and embarrassed character at the beginning who has no signifance in the family engagement party, but by the end he makes the biggest change and wants to educate his parents on their actions. Mr Birling, who is a pompous capitalist, starts of as a selfish and money minded character and although he temporarily feels remorse towards Eva he comes back in full circle and returns to his self-obsessed character towards the end. Priestley has portrayed these characters in such contrasting ways to present to the audience the society we they live in now and the potential society they could live in if they make a change.

Eric, who often finds himself as an outsider within his family, is presented as an alcoholic which later results in his incapability to control himself. Eric is awkward and uncomfortable in the engagement party shown by the stage directions “not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive” and his minor role in the engagement party but is later more outspoken when “he turned nasty…and threatened to make a row.” He relies on alcohol to speak up and this highlights his weak and insecure character, which is not helped by the absence of a father and consequently he fills this void with alcohol.

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Mr Birling has a love for money which is why he took shortcuts in his business - to maximise profits but this was later was revealed to be a pivotal role in Eva’s suicide. At the start of the engagement, Mr Birling want to treat “Gerald like one of the family” and “it’s one of the best nights of my life” but later it is revealed he only cares about how the merging of the two business because it will result in “lower costs and higher prices” which shows how his world revolves around money. Priestley has done this to ...

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