The Character of Eric Birling

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  • Eric Birling
    • Irresponsible
      • The fact that Eric "stole the money" from his father's office shows that he is irresponsible and immature but he stole it to give to Eva Smith which shows that he is more socially aware and knows his responsibilities and by the end of the play, he regrets what he has done
      • "Could I have a drink first?" shows that he cares about drinking more than anything else, which proves that he is irresponsible
      • Mr Birling calling him a "hysterical young fool" and Mrs Birling calling him a "silly boy" shows that even his parents think that he is immature and childish
      • "Well, I was in that state when a chap easily turns nasty" vaguely suggests to the audience that he was drunk and he forced himself onto Eva and got her pregnant
    • Suspicious
      • Eric is described in the stage directions at the start of the play as being "not quite at ease" and being "half shy and half assertive" which suggests that something is wrong with him
      • When Gerald jokes "Unless Eric's been up to something", Eric responds "(still uneasy) Well I don't think it's very funny" which hints that Eric has played a part and is worried about it
      • The first time Eric is mentioned in the play is when he "suddenly guffaws" and when he is questioned, he replies "I don't know - really. Suddenly I felt I just had to laugh" which implies that there is something suspicious about him
    • Not close to his parents
      • When Eric's part in Eva's life is revealed, he says to his mother "(almost threatening her) You don't understand anything. You never did. You never even tried" which shows the distance between them
      • "Besides, you're not the type - you don't get drunk" is ironic because Eric is a heavy drinker and it shows that Mrs Birling does not know Eric very well
      • "But he was in one of his excitable queer moods" shows that Eric's parents do not really understand him


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