Mr Birling Quotes

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  • Mr Birling
    • I can't accept responsibility
      • Mr Birling refuses to accept that he played any part in Eva Smith's death
        • He argues that his involvement with Eva was small and unimportant so it couldn't have lead to her death
        • He implies that Eva's misfortune was her own fault
      • Shows upper-class pre-war attitudes of denial and refusing to acknowledge that their actions had on the lower class
    • A man has to make his own way - has to look after himself - and his family too
      • Highlights selfish capitalist views
        • He feels that people can only be responsible for themselves. He thinks that if people fail then it is their own fault
      • Mr Birling is trying to educate Gerald and Eric on how he feels the world should work - he encourages them to only think about themselves and note to help anyone else in society
    • Its my duty to keep labour costs down
      • Showing his capitalist viewpoints
        • Primary aim is to succeed in business- cares more about money than people
        • He argues with Inspector that he could not have raised Eva's wages as he needs to run his business effectively and make as much money possible
        • Highlights the selfishness of capitalism- it was designed to reward business owners
    • Is there any reason my wife should answer questions from you,Inspector?
      • Patriarchal head of the household
        • Mr  Birling assumes a protective role over his wife.
        • He tries to defend his wife treating her as if she can't defend herself. The power struggle returns between the two men.
        • Mrs Birling is not directly addressed even though the conversation is about her.
      • Entitled upper-class men
        • Mr Birling highlighting his expectations as a member of the upper middle class. He doesn't feel that the questions deserve any response from his upper-class wife.
        • He feels that she is above this interrogation. The tone is quite condescending and is designed to put the Inspector in his place
        • Mrs Birling will not even respond to him herself because he is betheath her.
    • You don't seem to care. But i care. I was almost certain for a knighthood
      • Ironic
        • It is Mr Birling who doesn't care about anyone but himself. It is not Eric who he should be lecturing but himself.
      • Disconnects from family
        • The use of the second person pronoun 'you' verbally attacks Eric, and shows how he is separating Eric's ideas form his. They have become two very different people who have opposite ideas
        • Eric want the family to take responsibility for their actions, but Mr Birling is obsessed with he reputation and knighthood. This shows huge crack in the façade of the Birling family.
    • I've got to cover this up
      • Mr Birling is consistent with character as he only cares about covering up the story, his reputation, social status, and knighthood.
      • He is shown to be selfish, and has a self-centred attitude


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