“I’m talking as a hard-headed practical man of business. And I say there isn’t a chance of war.” Again Birling is showing a great deal of misunderstanding about the situation. He believes that because he is a very wealthy and successful businessman that he has to be correct. The play has just started and the audience are already starting to see the arrogance of Mr Birling. Mr Birling doesn’t chance his views or attitude throughout the course of the play. “If you don’t come sharply on some of these people, they’d soon be asking for the earth.” Birling is stereotyping Eva just because she asked for a pay rise. This is arrogant and selfish of Mr Birling and the audience will se this. He still doesn’t change the way he sees people. This attitude is exactly like he described himself. He said he was hard-headed the kind of person that is strong minded and like this situation he saw a threat so he got rid of the girl very quickly.
Birling shows a great deal of arrogance and selfishness throughout the play. He also shows a lack of understanding at the beginning. He speaks as though he’s the head of the family. He starts sentences with “I say” to give the impression that he is telling them. He talks a lot and delivered a lot of complacent predictions. His language is always arrogantly said and demanding but is no surprise. The audience would expect this language as he made it quite clear what he was going to be like at the beginning of the play.
. Priestly would want the audience to realise how selfish and arrogant people can be. Like people like Birling who takes everything for granted more or less and that brings out a selfish, arrogant kind of spoilt child attitude. This shows Priestly has brought Birling out as a typical Capitalist. Mrs Birling is a prim and cold woman. “I accept no blame for it all” Mrs Birling refuses to take any blame showing the audience what a selfish person she is. She shows no guilt or sympathy what so ever and talks very stubborn. This isn’t the first selfishness we have seen from Mrs Birling during the play.
“Inspector: Who is to blame then? Mrs Birling: First, the girl herself.” Mrs Birling is the first member of the family to blame the death on Eva. Showing she has no guilt and a very ignorant attitude. Mrs Birling is adamant she isn’t to blame and to strengthen her innocence she very selfishly blames the death on somebody else. But her plan starts to go very wrong as she blames more people. “Secondly, I blame the young man who was the father of the child she was going to have” Mrs Birling now starts to blame more than just Eva, and this backfires. Ironically, nobody yet knows, that the father she is blaming is in fact her very own breed. The Inspector being a very cunning man leads Mrs Birling on and keeps asking her what she thinks of the father. This is making Act 3 become increasingly dramatic.
“He should be made an example of. If the girls death is due to anybody, then it’s due to him.” Mrs Birling is ‘digging a hole’ as she keeps assaulting the father. The audience will have now probably gathered that Eric is something to do with the Child. Some members of the family have already gathered this and try to stop her but Mrs Birling’s self-confident attitude carries on. Mrs Birling’s coldness and lack of conscience make her unsympathetic, while her keen awareness of the rules of polite behaviour makes her seem out of touch with what really matters. “Well, I must say his manner was quite extraordinary; so rude-and assertive.” Mrs Birling lacks conscience and guilt, she is so self-centred and pompous that she has no worries at all. Typically of Mrs Birling she claims the Inspectors manners were very bad and loses the real idea of what is going on at the time.
Mrs Birling is a very self-confident and ignorant woman. She cares more about politeness and good manners than the current situation the family is in. Although caring a lot about manners she lacks a great deal of self-discipline when being questioned. She says much more than is required. Like Mr Birling, she doesn’t like the inspector questioning her, as she believes she is higher ranked than the Inspector he agitation is shown by the repetitive phrase I haven’t got the time. Priestly will be wanting to show the audience that people must be mature enough to accept the blame oce in a while and not to lay responsibility on others. Also that it’s so easy to become a victim of your own victimising. Like in the play where Mrs Birling piled the blame on the father who turned out to be her own son.
Gerald Croft falls somewhere between the two generations of Birlings in terms of the way he deals with the event. “In that case – as him rather more – upset – by this business than I probably appear to be” Here we see the real Gerald Croft. He is honest and feels shame for what he did. This is the Gerald that has not yet been influenced by the Birlings. Gerald is notorious for his honesty and politeness during the play, that’s when he’s being himself. “That may have been all nonsense.” Gerald now is influenced by the Birlings and all his shame and guilt starts to go away as they debate whether the inspector is real. The quote implies that he is questioning the inspector and starts to believe the girl never died. During the last scene when the inspector leaves he joins the Birlings in their selfish acts to find out whether the inspector existed.
“Birling: The girl had been causing trouble in the works. I was quite justified. Gerald: Yes I think you were. I know we’d have done the same thing.” Gerald agrees with Birlings selfish and thoughtless actions to fire the girl. This doesn’t please Sheila; she is the only person who actually cared. The fact that Gerald made Eva ‘feel happy’ allows us to feel some sympathy for him. “I became at once the most important person in her life” This quote is one of the few quotes that give the audience a good idea about what Eva Smith/Daisy Renton was like. He made her happy, and gave her something to live for, but Gerald left her leaving her devastated and if he didn’t leave in that manner she still might have been alive. Gerald felt really sorry and this may have let the audience feel slight sympathy for him.
Gerald is a polite young man from a good up bringing. “Oh – I say congratulations!” and “thank you”. Once again, this is the real Gerald Croft, whom isn’t influenced by the Birlings. He’s polite and gains a lot of respect from Mrs Birling. The audience from very few of his lines can tell he comes from good breeding. Gerald is a typical gentleman of this time. His politeness and punctuality are immaculate. He is respected by the family and loved by Sheila. He is a very honest person too; he admitted to Sheila and the inspector that he’d had an affair and Shelia acknowledged his honesty. He speaks well and pays plenty of complements.
Priestley uses Gerald to convey the message that honesty is very important. The audience can compare him with themselves because like I mentioned, he was a typical gentleman of the time. Gerald accepts responsibility for the death and feels guilt and that is something the audience must learn to do. Some people might hate the character Priestley created others might see him as a role model.
Right from the start of the Inspectors questioning Sheila Birling expresses sadness, regret and interest in Eva’s story. “Oh – how horrible!” Sheila says this before she even knows she is anything to do with it. This gives the audience a good impression of Sheila’s emotional characteristics. She feels shame for Eva Smith/Daisy Renton even though she doesn’t know anything about the situation. “It’s just that I can’t help thinking about this girl” Again, this quote is before the Inspector questioned Sheila. The audience are seeing very strong emotions from Sheila, something they haven’t seen so far.
“What was she like? Quite young?” Sheila shows real interest in Eva Smith/Daisy Renton. She wants to know whets happened and what the girl was like. Sheila is the first person to react in this manner. All the other characters feel little guilt and little interest in the girl. “And if I could help now, I would” These are the first signs of slight culpability from Sheila. From being very interested and alerted by the death of Eva Smith/Daisy Renton, Sheila has become worried and agitated. “I’ll never, never do it again to anybody” Shelia’s guilt gradually increases. She is now pleading with the Inspector. Sheila is obviously guilty and the guilt she shows surprises some of the other characters. She is the first character to admit to being responsible and the audience would get the sense that she is genuinely remorseful.