Birling’s character does not develop at all through the play. At the end he is still just as mean and tight fisted as he was in the beginning. The only thing that concerns him about the tale of the poor girl is his humiliation at the hands of the public when the scandal is reported. He berates Eric, not because of what he did to the girl, but for adding to their problems. Birling is also incredibly insensitive. He cannot understand why the Inspector is surprised and disgusted when he tells them that he fired the girls. He just counts being cold hearted and mean as part of his job.
He only cares about climbing the ladder, not whether anyone gets hurt while he does it. This attitude is one that Preistley dislikes the most and is the opposite of socialism. In conclusion, Birling is the opposite of everything that Preistley believes in and is the one that Preistley uses the most in showing that society is immoral. He is the classic capitalist who would have viewed Preistley as a crank and do-gooder. I think that the play-writ succeeds in his aim with Birling as by the end you view him as an evil, mean, industrialist. Mrs. Birling is the wife of Arthur Birling.
Nearly as cruel and intolerant as her husband, she is very stubborn. Preistley uses her to show that it is not just men who are the barrier to the unification of society. Her view on the world, although she is mean and cruel, is through rose-tinted spectacles. She cannot imagine that Eric has been drinking at all, let alone heavily as this quote demonstrates – “Mrs. B. Eric? Oh I’m afraid he may have had rather too much to drink tonight. We were having a little celebration here- Inspector Isn’t he used to drinking? Mrs. B. No, of course not. He’s only a boy. ” This quote also shows Mrs.
Birling’s reluctance to treat her offspring as equals. Right the way the play she treats them as if they are both very small children. This fact also shows her similarity to her husband. When it emerges that she had spoken to the dead girl two weeks ago and she had, in effect, killed her, she still shows no remorse and believes she did the right thing because the girl’s plight “sounded ridiculous to me”. Her crime in relation to Eva Smith is possibly the worst. Mrs Birling is the one that had the chance to save her from her awfully premature demise and she chose to let it go because she was so pompous.
She believes that a girl of a subordinate class could not have high enough morals to stop accepting stolen money. “As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money! ” This woman is also absurdly short sighted. She is incapable of imagining that her son could have had a relationship with this girl. With this character Preistley fulfils his aim very well indeed. The character is beautifully written and you really do get a sense of how mean and pompous she is. Her treatment of her children, the Inspector, Gerald and her husband all exemplify the things that Preistley hated about his society.