Mr Birling as a character in "An Inspector Calls".

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An Inspector Calls

Inspector Calls, by J.B. Priestly, displays a range of diverse characters. An important figure who stands out from the rest is Mr Arthur Birling.

Mr Birling is a prominent character in the play and is a ‘heavy-looking, rather portentous man in his middle fifties with fairly easy manners but rather provincial in his speech.’ His physical appearance is similar to Winston Churchill; Priestly may be trying to prove a point here. Mr Birling is pleased with what he has achieved throughout his life, but his eagerness for being knighted is emphasised on page 8 as he mentions it twice and even says, ‘I gather there’s a very good chance of a knighthood,’ (Heinemann Plays Edition). This shows the reader how boastful Mr Birling is and how he likes to brag about his status. Also, he states, ‘it’s exactly the same port your father gets from him,’ whilst talking to Gerald, to indicate he is on similar levels or the same class as Gerald’s father. Gerald’s father is Sir George Croft of Crofts Limited. On page 13, Birling says, ‘the son of Sir George Croft – you know, Crofts Limited.’ This shows the Crofts are well known, as the words ‘you know’ imply, ‘you must have heard of them before’. It also shows how Birling is trying to show off to the Inspector by showing family connections. From this, we know Mr Birling cares for only his social status and wealth.
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His manners are somewhat complex. Throughout the play, his mood changes many times. Towards Gerald, he displays an energetic and conceited attitude, mentioning the Honours List and the Companies. We can clearly understand his intention is to impress Gerald. On the contrary, his attitude towards the Inspector is significantly different. He attempted to frighten the Inspector with threats, such as, ‘I was an alderman for years – and Lord Mayor two years ago – and I’m still on the Bench – so I know the Brumley police officers pretty well…’ By stating these facts, Mr Birling immediately shows ...

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