Sybil used her position in the Brumley Women’s Charity Organisation to refuse Eva’s request for help just because she used the name, Mrs Birling. She was prejudiced against her case because she used the same name as her and saw it as her “duty” to refuse to help her. She refuses to see how her actions could have been responsible for the girl’s death, even though we can clearly see that her refusal to help the girl could easily have led to her suicide.
It is only when she realises that Eric was the child’s father that she shows any signs of weakening, but the speed with which she recovers after the Inspector’s departure emphasises how cold and unsympathetic she is. She blames the child’s father as much as she does Eva for the death until she realises that it is Eric who is the father. She condemns Gerald’s affair with the girl as morally ‘disgusting’, but when Gerald reveals that Goole is not a policeman and therefore poses no threat to them, she eats her words and tells him she is “most grateful” Reputation is evidently more important to her than moral rights and wrongs.
When Eric is first introduced into the play he is described as being “in his early twenties, not quite at ease, half shy, half assertive. Unlike Gerald, Priestley describes Eric in the opening stage directions as ‘not quite at ease’. He has been expensively educated, and yet he is a disappointment to Birling Eric seems embarrassed and awkward right from the start. He is the only one to respond spontaneously to details of the girl’s death and when he is forced to admit how he behaved towards her he has a strong sense of guilt because the consequences of what he did are so serious.
When he hears how his father sacked Eva Smith, he supports the worker’s cause, like Sheila. “Why shouldn’t they try for higher wages? ” When Eric first met Eva he started giving her money and taking advantage of her. He keeps giving her money. We later find out that he has stolen it from his father’s factory. He says to his father, “you’re not the kind of father a chap could go to when in trouble. ” This shows that there is some tension between the two.
He had some sense of responsibility, though, because although he got a woman pregnant, he was concerned enough to give her money. He was obviously less worried about stealing some money from his family than he was about the girl’s future. Eva stopped accepting the money when she believed that it was stolen. Eric took advantage of Eva and made her pregnant as a result. He tried to make this right by committing a crime and steeling money. He admits to having done this in the novel.
Mr Birling blames Eric for what all this will look like on him. He is again being self-centred and arrogant. Eric, like his sister, refuses to accept that things were the way they before they found out that the inspector was a fake. He wants his parents to admit their mistakes as freely as he has admitted his. Though he is not a particularly pleasant character, he is sincerely ashamed of his behavior and tries to change things for the better.
The whole of the Birling family took advantage of Eva in some point of their lives. The least of was Gerald. He took care of her and supported her but jeopardized his relationship with Sheila to do this. The most responsible person for Eva’s death was Eric. He took advantage of her, making her pregnant, and he stole money, which she then refused to take in order to help her. If the money had been his own then she may not have killed herself.