After saying this, “Eric, his son refers back to an earlier moment in the evening when “Mr Birling” claimed that one should only be concerned with what is his. However when it is brought to attention in front of the inspector, “Arthur” immediately dismisses it. I feel this is a key moment in the play. He has realised that he is wrong in what he had said. He does not admit this though. If “Mr Birling” had acknowledged that his opinion was wrong I would respect him a lot more. Instead he does not dwell on the situation thus showing that he has not learnt the lesson that is taught in the book – equality and care for others.
For this reason, I do not have any feelings of sympathy for “Birling”, as he does not change his attitude even after he is shown it is wrong. This is further underlined in the last part of the play. He decides to phone the infirmary to see if someone has actually died. When he receives the answer he is joyful. He brushes aside the whole evening and treats it as a hoax. He takes no notice of what has been said and is almost proud that he has shown the inspector was wrong. This sums up his character and attitude. It proves that he will never be able to learn. This is why I did not feel any signs of even slight sympathy for character while studying the book.
“Mrs Birling” displays a similar attitude to her husband. At first she cannot believe she has any involvement with the death of “Eva”. Before her questioning “Mrs Birling” shows her conceited ways. She can only be described as a “snob”. She is stereotypical of an upper class woman during this time. She has no concern for people of lower social status; this message is gradually learned by the reader as the story progresses. She seems like a very cold character in the play. Before the inspector start speaking with “Mrs Birling”, she claims that “Sheila’s” only interest in being present is “morbid curiosity” of how “Eva” committed suicide. When “Sheila” denies this Mrs Birling rudely replies “I don’t suppose for a for a moment that we can understand why the girl committed suicide. Girls of that class”.
This quotation shows how “Mrs Birling” feels she is “above” people of a lower class than herself. The way she speaks about “Eva” would be more appropriate for a dog. This attitude is terrible. Her stuck up manner leads to the reader having no admiration for “Mrs Birling”; she is a character who I severely dislike. Like her husband, she fails to learn the moral lesson that the Inspector is trying to teach. She feels she is so superior to working class people that she does not have to listen or acknowledge their points of view.
When the inspector begins to question “Mrs Birling” we find that her contribution to “Eva’s” death is by fart the most immoral and ruthless. As the inspection of “Mrs Birling” goes on we find out more and more. As the chair of the “Brumley Women’s Charity Organisation”, “Mrs Birling” met “Eva Smith” just two weeks before her tragic death. However instead of using her valid name she used one of her many guises, appearing as “Mrs Birling”. This is obviously in relation to her time with “Eric” but his mother does not know of this. When the real “Mrs Birling” heard of her name being used by such a commoner she admitted to bursting into a ferocious temper, which she feels was appropriate- “Yes, I think it was a piece of gross impertinence – quite deliberate – and naturally that was one of the things that prejudiced me against her case”.
This proves that “Mrs Birling” does not care about her actions and that she is quite proud of turning away “Eva” even though she is carrying a child. She then goes on to admit that she stopped other carers from helping her by using her position of authority, she abuses the power she has. I find this disgraceful. I think that “Mrs Birling” is cruel for turning “Eva” away just for using her surname. I do not have any sympathy whatsoever for “Mrs Birling” because of the way she sees people of a lower social class as “inferior” and how she is so close-minded, and will not confess that she was wrong in turning Eva way. This is the character I feel the least sympathy for.
The last character I will be analysing is “Eric”, the son of the “Birling”. Previous to his inspection, Eric has a small and relatively insignificant role in the play. The only noticeable point made about “Eric” is that he is definitely on edge. When “Mr Birling” and Gerald joke that the inspectors presence due to “Eric”, he sharply blast Eric- “Here, what do you mean? Gerald- “Only something we were talking about when you were out. A joke really.” Eric- “Well, I don’t think it’s very funny”.
This shows his inexplicable nervousness during the events prior to his part of the investigation. At the dinner table, “Eric” becomes very drunk; this is another sign of his uneasiness. He then leaves the house whilst the inspector is interviewing other members of the family. At the beginning of “Act Three” “Eric” returns home to his anxious family, who have just realised that he was responsible for impregnating “Eva”, he enters slowly and says “You know, don’t you?” indicating that he realises his family have discovered his terrible secret. He explains how he met “Eva” in a pub whilst very drunk, he then forced himself into her home.
After that the relationship developed and they became lovers. After a while she told “Eric” that she was pregnant, so he stole money from his own father to support her. However when she found out it was stolen she would to accept any more. This is another lesson learnt in the play. Although someone like “Mrs Birling” would think that a working class girl would take money under any circumstances, “Eva” does not. This shows that honesty does not come from what you are but who you are. When “Eric” finds out about how his own mother turned away “Eva” in her hour of need he is distraught. After his mother tries to reason with “Eric”, he says “You don’t understand anything. You never did. You never even tried – you”.
His anger shows that he understands that the way he treated “Eva” was wrong. He is distressed. When the inspector reinforces his theory and again tells the “Birlings” that they are responsible for “Eva Smith’s” death, Eric says “My G-d – I’m not likely to forget”. This shows his guilt and like “Sheila” he wishes that nothing had ever happened. I have some sympathy for “Eric”. He has realised that he made a fatal error by not concerning himself with “Eva’s” feelings. He regrets treating her the way he did and realises that all human beings have rights.
The character I have most sympathy for is “Gerald”. Even though he does not accept the responsibility of “Eva’s” death as much as “Sheila” and “Eric”, I feel sorry for him because he was the only character that had a real, loving relationship with “Eva”. “Sheila” and “Eric” feel remorse, “Gerald is miserable because he has lost someone. As I have already mentioned, I have no sympathy for “Mr & Mrs Birling” because of the foolish and close-minded way the act. They are at fault as much as anyone else for “Eva’s” suicide but refuse to take any responsibility. They do not learn the extremely important lesson taught in the book that tells us to treat everyone with respect, regardless of their background.