Eric had been treated like a little boy by his parents all his life, but when his parents find out the things he had been hiding i.e. he ‘stole money’ and he also ‘made love’. This came to a surprise to Mrs. Birling since she did not expect this from her son. Eric claimed to be ‘old enough to be married’ which is true. However his father doesn’t ‘want any of that talk from’ him. This shows how his parents think of him as a child whereas in reality he is twenty five. Priestley shows here how parents do not want their children to grow up even if they are an adult.
Mr Birling and Eric’s relationship wasn’t quite good to begin with but wasn’t in the open. When Eric’s family found out about his relationship with Eva Smith and the thieving he had done from his fathers company everything came into the open. His father asked, ‘Why didn’t you come to me once you found yourself in this mess?’ Eric didn’t consider he was, ‘the kind of father a chap could go to when he’s in trouble’ This shows that he doesn’t trust his father with his personal life and isn’t the kind of person to turn to and now his father knows the truth. Priestley shows how silly children can be but also shows how father can be really egotistic.
Mr. Birling is a rich businessman who thinks very highly of himself, even though he is often wrong. Mr. Birling’s family respect him and listen intently to his ideas that ‘there isn’t a chance of war’ and the ‘Titanic’ is ‘unsinkable.’ This is an example of dramatic irony and the audience would know that Mr. Birling was very wrong in his opinions and might even think him to be a hubris. When he says, ‘the way some of these cranks talk and write now, you’d think everybody has to look after everybody else’, Priestley is showing Birling’s anti- socialist view, and his own attitude to businessmen. Birling always says that he is strongly capitalist and the audience see him as narrow minded. Priestley wanted the audience to have a low opinion of Birling because he was discouraging his Capitalist politics and trying to show people like Birling to be at fault.
When Mr. Birling makes his speech he makes several points which Priestley himself disagrees with, he uses the Inspector as a medium to make a point to both the Birling family and the audience that we shouldn’t all ‘Look out for our own’ which is how he describes it. According to Mr. Birling, ‘A man should look out for himself, and his family if he has one’; this shows just how full of self-importance he actually is.
When Mr and Mrs. Birling find out that the Inspector is a ‘hoax’ they no longer care whatsoever about what had happened. They act as though it never happened. Sheila claims that ‘it frightens’ her the way her parents think. This shows that they want to forget this for many reasons. The reason for Mrs Birling to forget this was that she got tricked into telling the truth since she had told a lie to begin with. The reason for Mr. Birling to forget this is because he got ordered by a ‘fake’ Inspector. Gerald Croft has an attitude similar to Mr. Birling. During the questioning Gerald’s attitude didn’t change a lot. Gerald considers that they’ve ‘been had’. This shows that Gerald doesn’t care a lot about ‘Daisy Renton’ who he had an affair with. After Gerald finds out that it was a ‘hoax’ he loses care about what he was questioned about.
While Gerald was being questioned about ‘Daisy Renton’ he was really co-operative even though it was in a bad situation. When Gerald is asked questions he doesn’t lie, instead he said the truth immediately. Even in front of his fiancï¿½e Sheila which could have been really frustrating since he told the truth that ‘he did see a good deal of’ Daisy Renton. Although his deeds were very dirty, he owned up and completely unearthed the whole story to the Inspector.
Having analysed the different reactions of the characters to the Inspector’s visit, I think that Priestley was trying to show that relations can get stronger or weaker. He also shows that the Inspector punishes them all on a moral basis. He didn’t punish them physically but did so mentally. I believe that those who read it or watch it in the twenty- first century would not gain as much from the story in regards to the moral teachings because most have now accepted the advantages of Socialism over Capitalism and so do not have as much to learn on the arguments of this issue as the audiences of 1947.