When we first meet Arthur Birling, he is described through the stage direction, as a ruthless, selfish and over-confident business man. All that he cares about his is image and his social status. He wants to be in the News Years honour’s list and is very self-satisfied and confident that he will get into it. Shortly afterwards we come to see that he is scared, frightened and so much less self-confident and pride. Starts to loose control about certain things, we see this later on in the story. Starts to become less focused and curious about the enquiry and just answers without asking questions back or answering back, about the whole enquiry; just wants to all this business with Eva Smith to blow over and for the inspector to go.
When we hear that he has sacked Eva Smith, we see him as all defensive and not accepting that he actually did anything, this was then the inspector starts the enquiry. She was merely standing up for her and fellow workers against the pay and conditions they get, and Birling just didn’t want her talking at this manner to him. This is where we see the ruthless side of him, “She had far too much to say for herself, get rid of her”, he does this because he just wants to pay the lowest for the simplest of jobs and doesn’t give a damn about the workers, “I have a couple of hundred workers under me, who keep changing”, this tells us that he has no relationship with the workers, especially Eva Smith… she made them all (workers) go on strike.
Priestly intends his audience to see Birling as a Selfish, Ruthless, Unapproachable, and Arrogant. We know this because the way and how he fired Eva Smith from his factory and the way he acts all bossy at the start of the enquiry. My own personal feelings about Mr. Birling is that he is a rich, arrogant person who believes anything he says is true and seems to only care about what his family gets up to and how well his businesses are getting up to, but then again… he doesn’t really care about them; he only cares about his family because he wants to control them and make sure non of the newspapers companies get hold on any saucy news from Birling’s, especially as there classed as “Royal” in the hierarchy, and doesn’t care about his business.
When we first meet the Inspector, he is described, through the stage directions as a mysterious, bossy, confident and an un-intimidated person. He’s the kind of character that the play needed and couldn’t go on with out him, and on the mysterious side of it all, the audience is left with a sort of cliff-hanger figuring out who the Inspector was and what he’s goal was coming to the Birling’s house… but of course he’s a ghost warning them if they didn’t learn their lesson then things will start to go downwards for them.
The Inspector is intended to be seen as a ghostly, mysterious and bossy person. This is so that the person who he is questioning won’t lie because the Inspector knows all, so even if they do lie he can push it out of them. Through his questioning of Shelia, Priestly shows us that the Birling family isn’t all just focused on social status and the way people portray them, Shelia is more understanding and actually knows the impact she had on Eva Smith and how her actions affected her life. The others were willing to forget the whole thing happened, but her and Eric just couldn’t forget that their actions affected someone’s whole life.
Our first impressions are that Mr. Birling and the Inspector are polar opposites/from opposite sides of a spectrum, because Birling’s views are fixated on money, image, status, and reputation… it doesn’t matter how you get the money or status, as long as it looks good besides your name and people look up to you for it and benefits him. The Inspector’s views are on moral, fairness, socialist justice, equality, rights. Doing the “right thing”, he teaches people to do the right thing… that’s the whole point of him coming to the Birling’s house at this time to teach them that they all have done a bad thing.
Twentieth Century Drama GCSE Coursework An Inspector Calls Continued… However, they do have some similarities… bossy, confident, and single minded. But there is some motivation behind these qualities that makes the difference. Mr. Birling acts purely for financial gain and status. The Inspector is motivated by the need for social justice and the desire for equality. This is a powerful play, in which Priestly delivers a clear message to the audience; learn from mistakes and all actions have consequences… this is what the Inspector tried to teach the Birling’s.
Two of the most powerful characters are Mr. Birling and Inspector Goole and through them, Priestly expresses his heartfelt desire for social reform. We very clearly get the impression from Priestly that we are supposed to like the Inspector and support his methods, whereas we are meant to dislike Birling’s arrogance and anti-social ways. “It’s better to ask for the earth than to take it.” The Inspector asks them to open their minds, but Birling takes without asking, or considering the possible consequences.