Arthur Birling is a rather portentous man in his middle fifties with a fairly easy manner but with restricted views and opinions. Arthur Birling tends to think more about his business than the people who work for him, so when he sacked Eva he didn’t consider her feelings or how it would affect her life, to him she was just an employee, He was a “hard headed practical man of business”. When his daughters engagement was announced he found it as another bonus to his business because Gerald was the son of the owner of Croft unlimited the company in competition with his own so in his eyes the marriage between his daughter and Gerald was just another way to bring the two companies together But, Birling is also a little uneasy about his daughter marrying Gerald incase Gerald’s parents think their son is marrying beneath himself by marrying Sheila.Order now
Arthur Birling was very concerned with the publics views of him and thought of his reputation very highly. He is Ex-Lord Mayor of Brumley and a local magistrate and he is always quick to point out his social status ” I gather there is a very good chance of knighthood”. He wants to stay away from scandal and the police to protect his public image. When Arthur was questioned by the inspector he tells him that Eva Smith left his factory two years ago, she was always a good worker, “a foreman told me he was ready to promote her into what we call a leading operator-head of a small group of girls”.
The reason Eva left Birling’s factory was that he sacked her because she and a group of girls asked him for a raise in their wages and he refused as Mr. Birling regarded himself as reasonable and paid his employees no more or no less than the going rate “I couldn’t consider it, we were paying the usual rates and if they didn’t like those rates, they could go and work somewhere else. It’s a free country I told them”. He didn’t punish the workers who asked for more money but he turned them down because he thinks it’s his duty to keep costs low and prices high but Birling realises he has no legal obligation to keep labour costs down so he does it for his own moral reasons. The girls then went on strike but came back a week later on the old rates a week or so after the strike began apart from four or five ringleaders who of course included Eva Smith.
Birling becomes impatient with the inspector, but at first Gerald and Birling are not worried by the inspector’s visit. Birling regards the Police as their protectors but also as their servants. Birling has a strong view of other people and believes ” A man has to make his own way, has to look after himself and his family”. He doesn’t give anything away for free and also said, ” The way some of these cranks talk and write you’d think everybody has to look after everyone else”. In other words he is saying if his actions affect her then its her fault and she should do something about it for herself instead of him worrying over her.
This shows us that Birling is out for himself no matter who gets in his way. He is particularly self-centered and considers himself and Mrs. Birling to stand for the ‘right values’ and for proper conduct but he isn’t standing for the right values by refusing to give the girls a raise. He could have sat down and discussed the issues instead of just giving them a final ultimatum. He is only interested in protecting the interests of himself and others like him.
Mr. Birling is very narrow minded and has no idea about the consequences of his actions he’s very arrogant and opinionated, he is short sighted and only sees what he wants to, he makes predictions about the future – how the Titanic will never sink and the impossibility of war. He seems unable to see a reason why nations should go to war and ‘upset the businessmen’s quest for profit’.
Arthur doesn’t seem at all worried about what has happened to the poor girl Eva smith, He has no regrets about what he did to the girl but is only offended by the inspectors rudeness but he seems far more concerned about the fact that there could be the possibility of now being deprived of his knighthood. All through out the play Arthur tries to belittle the inspector by trying to put him in his place and continually re emphasizing his own position in society, he gets increasingly desperate to avoid facing his responsibilities whilst trying to cover up anything his family may have said that could diminish his future chances.
Eric is one of the weaker more evasive characters, He is in his early twenties and is half shy and half-assertive. He is very fond of his alcohol although his parents are completely oblivious of his habit. Sheila is aware of Eric’s drink problem and had been harbouring his secret until the inspector shows up, when she takes it on herself to inform her parents. When Eric’s mother finds out about his little problem, she tries to shake off the accusation as her little boy couldn’t possible do a thing like getting drunk, ” I never dreamt, besides, you’re not the type, you don’t get drunk”.
Eric met Eva Smith in the Palace Bar after he had consumed a rather considerable amount of alcohol and was quite tipsy. Eric insisted that he go back to Eva’s home ” I threatened to make a row” She let him in and “that’s when it happened and I didn’t’ even remember- that’s the hellish thing”. Eric and Eva made love- if you could call it that. He used her as an object in the heat of the drunken moment and forced her to do something that she probably didn’t want to do.