Eric is quite inward as he hides his problems from his family and was ‘not quite at ease’ when he learns he fathered a child. He was ashamed from being a thief and drunkard. Mr Birling never cared much for him as this is indicated when he says “You damned fool – why didn’t you come to me when you found yourself in this mess? ” This suggests that Eric doesn’t trust Mr Birling or that his father never cared about him therefore he doesn’t initially thought that his father might help him.
This is backed up by his reply, “Because you’re not the kind of chap a man could go to when he’s in trouble! ” This reply also indicates their fatherly-son relationship wouldn’t improve much at the end of the novel. He doesn’t have his sister’s confidence in the dining hall and also lacking socialising skills as he tried joking in with Birling’s and Gerald’s conversation by laughing, but when they asked him “What’s the joke? ” He didn’t know and due to his ‘Silliness’, Birling doesn’t approve of him.
His mother also lack caring for her son as she can’t even realise his addiction to alcohol. He was ‘squiffy’ when the Inspector arrived but in the end he still admitted his part of responsibility. But because he is ‘squiffy’, he might be unwillingly giving up this information and admitting it, because we haven’t been told he has sobers up even at the end of the novel, we don’t know if he will act like his parents and forgets about his and carry on with his old life. When he realised Eva was dead along with his child, he was fuming at his mother for not helping her.
This could be an indication that he is pushing all responsibility towards someone else as he is angry at his mother for killing his child, but the truth is they all played a part in it because if Eric have taken the responsibility of being a father, Eva wouldn’t seek Mrs Birling’s charity for help thus not rejected and seeked suicide in order to escape the harsh reality of the world. During the Inspector’s visit Eric was genuinely sad and ashamed of this, and after the Inspector was gone he was more thoughtful and caring.
He also considered what his actions might lead other people into and feels a strong sense of guilt and real sympathy towards Eva Smith. A quote to back this up is “I don’t see much nonsense about it when a girl goes and kill herself. You lot may be letting yourself out nicely, but I can’t. ” Mrs Birling is a ‘rather cold woman’ and her husbands social superior; this indicates she is a uncaring and nearly deprived of emotions – a person who is untouched by any tragedy.
She protects her honour and is more willingly to blame and push all the responsibility to someone else, and in this novel, he blamed it on the girl who died and the boy who made her pregnant. Thus she doesn’t get blamed for turning down a pregnant girl because she was ‘low-classed’ and ‘impertinent piece of rubbish’ in her mind. Due to her lack of conscience, she is viewed as unsympathetic and out of touch with reality. Her lack of understanding leads to her to make several rude and snobbish remarks and still not realising her son’s drinking problems.
Nonetheless, she shows signs of weakness and remorse when she acknowledged that her grandchild’s death was due to her actions. During the Inspector;s visit she refused to give into the Inspectors continuous questioning; and even managed to withstand breaking down under pressure for a while. Her cold-hearted character shows through again when she said “I’m very sorry, but she only had herself to blame” She tries to stay calm and not get intimidated when the Inspector was questioning her.
After the Inspector has gone, she was sad and remorse for a what seem extremely short as she, we presume, mourns the death of her grandchild. But she quickly recovers to her old self – emphasising her harsh and uncaring nature. She is a character which plays the traditional role of a hard, clever and stern woman whose in charge of her family household and living, she has certainly achieved this as she remains un-tempted or faltered by the inspector’s continuous questioning and effort to make her admit to her wrong doings.
Gerald Croft is a man in his thirties who is Sheila’s fianci?? and the son of Sheila’s father’s Industrial rival. He is a mild capitalist as be belongs to the ‘older generation’ then the ‘infamous young generation’, which is referring to Eric and Shiela whom is deeply penitent and rue about their actions. Gerald strongly deplores about committing this misdeeds with Eva Smith, or Daisy Renton who he met and harbour as a mistress. He is respected by Mr Birling, who he shares opinions with on how to conduct a good business.
He is self-confident and at ease with anyone who come in contact with his main traits. He is also rather courteous and tactful towards the Birling’s. When the Inspector visited them, he is quite impassive by the girl’s death, because he doesn’t know her, but when the name ‘Daisy Renton’ was mentioned he immediately became anxious and agitated. Throughout his confession he was unease and extremely irritated and he might be a a little bit frightened or scared. After the Inspector was gone he returned to his usual self – confident, and shrugged off the event with a laugh.
The Inspector is a socialist who represents Priestley’s views about the world and what he view other people as. Capitalists in Priestley’s views are people who forces the lower class into death or something bad. An example is that Mr Birling and his family keep hurting Eva Smith and eventually forces her to suicide when she knew that there isn’t anything good or happy left in her life. The term ‘Goole’ sounds like ‘Ghoul’, and a ghoul is either a ghost or spirit who takes a morbid interest in deaths. The Inspector’s name, Goole, creates any impression of ‘massiveness, solidity and purposefulness’.
/ He has a habit of looking at someone hard before speaking; as if he is reading their mind and due to this, it intimidates many people as it appears he is trawling through their minds. His role becomes more important as the play progresses, he remains solid and emotionless despite several attempts to distract him from the purpose of his visit. An example is when Birling tries to bribe the Inspector so this business about the girl’s death does not spread out and affect his business or status in society. ” Look.
Inspector – I’d give thousands – yes, thousands”. He is essential to the play as he is the one who makes the play progress; without him, none of the secrets would be revealed, and it is also him that demonstrates how people are responsible for the effect they have on the lives of others. His sombre appearance is a direct contrast to the Birling’s family – the sense of joy and happiness in the air was broken down when he entered, with his stern and strong looking expression when he announced the girl’s death.
From there onwards, he controls how the play will go and unfold. Overall, the Inspector is an eponymous character Priestley created for the play. Primarily, he is introduced to the play to interrogate the Birling Family and Gerald Croft, but Priestley also uses him to move the plot forward and as a device for the writer to voice his opinion, furthermore he controls movement on stage, encourage the characters and audience to learn from their mistakes and to create moments of tension and mystery.
The Inspector makes the characters confess their actions and reveal what he seems to already know for example, at the end of Act One, when Gerald is discussing to Shelia about the time he spent with Daisy Renton last summer. He already knows that Gerald has something to reveal and that it is just a matter of time. The Inspector also has another function, nto only did he tried to make the Birling’s admit what they did, he also tried to make them realise and acknowledge their part in this suicide.
He managed to convinced Shiela and Eric to change, of which, it has the most impact on Shiela because she was utterly distressed by this tragedy. The Inspector and Priestley merges as one and spread his ideas throughout the play. He also made all the characters feel guilt, Gerald and Mr and Mrs Birling was on the stage of feeling guilty; but yet they did not and refused to change; despite this, they did not feel guilty for long thus they did not learn anything from this.
He did managed to make then feel involved in other people’s affairs which they have partially caused to happen and the bitterness between them leads them to argue between each other. They all blame someone else and empathised the responsibility inside them. To Shiela, it doesn’t matter wherever the Inspector was real or not as it is more important for her to know the truth and learn from her mistakes than pondering the truth about the Inspector. This is backed up when she said “The worst part is. But you’re forgetting one thing I still can’t forget.
Everything we said had happened really had happened. If it didn’t end tragically, then that’s lucky for us. But it might have done. ” But to her parents and Gerald, it is a big difference as confessing to a real police would mean a public scandal. In the end they quickly become sled-confident again, that’s why the second phone call takes place. Priestley wanted to prove them wrong, the Inspector also gives a moving speech at the end of the play about the disaster in the future and make them realises the importance of co-operation and what the class system have done to this society.