- Birling is a snob.
- Social Climber - aware of his position in society.
- Tries to impress/intimidate the Inspector by mentioning his connections/achievements - being Lord Mayor, knowing the Chief Constable, and The Croft Family.
- Is pompus - making long, and elaborate speeches.
- Reveals a selfish and arrogant attitude.
- His claims about the Titanic, the nation and the fact that war is impossible, make him look foolish - allowing the audience to embrace dramatic irony, as they know it has happened, and will happen.
- Believes that each person is responsible for only himself and his family, and denies social responsibility.
More worried about scandal and his reputation that people's feelings.
Shows a callous and unsympathetic attitude towards Eva.
Is impressed by Geralds affair, even though it is his own daughter who had been betrayed.
- Bigger snob than her husband.
- Described in the stage directions as -‘cold woman, and her husband’s social superior’.
- She is narrow-minded and judgemental about the 'lower classes.'
- No understanding of how other people live.
- No insight into her sons life, and is genuinely unware he is a heavy drinker.
- Her life is goverened by her idea of corectness and while her daughter is begaving in an 'appropriate' way (and they get on well with each other) when Sheila expresses an opinion, she doesn't approve and tells her off.
- She has a arrogant and patronising attitude towards the Inspector, which leads to her falling victim to his questioning, despite Sheila's warnings.
- Although she is the chair person of a charity organisation, she is not a charitable person.
- She is smug and self-satisfied, and only serves on the committee out of a sense of duty, rather than a genuine desire to help those who are less fortunate.
- She is easily offended because she only likes to hear what she wants to.
- She is happy when it seems the Inspector isn't real, because she feels she is the only one who didn't 'give into him'.
- She does not change her attitude, has no sense of empathy and shows no remorse for her role in Eva's death.
- In the beginning, Sheila is presented as rather pleased with herself, but also rather shallow.
- She speaks in a rather childish way - calls her Mother 'Mummy' and uses words like 'squiffy' and 'jolly well'.
- Is the only one to immediatly accept responsibility for her role inEva's death.
- Probably the most sympathetic character in the play.
- She is genuinley remoseful for her actions.Very affected by details of the girl's death.
- She shows perception towards the Inspector, realising that he already knows what he is asking them.
- Shows intuition about what his question is leading to.
- First to realise Eric is the father of Eva's baby and tries to stop her Mother making it worse for Eric.
- Her intuition is also evident, as before information about Gerald's affair came out, she was already suspicious about his behaviour.
- She speaks to him, 'half serious, half playfully' about it.
- Although she acted out of spite and jelousy in getting Eva sacked, she has more of a conscience than any one else.
- Has more empathy for Eva, recognising her as a person not just as a worker.
- She is therefore different from her Father and Mother and nearer to the inspector in terms of her social conscience.
- Of all the characters, Sheila is most changed by the Inspector's visit.
- She is more honest and outspoken at the end of the play, shocking her Mother with her remarks.
- Sheila represents hope that people can change.
- Is awkward, and not at ease with himself or others.
- Described as 'half shy, half assertive', immature and weark.
- Presented as a drunk who does not stand up to his father.
- Neither of his parents know him.
- Lacking their regard and affection.
- Birling makes it clear Gerald is the type of son he wanted.
- Sleeping with Eva was possibly as a result of his parents lack of affection for him.
- He treated Eva badly.
- Revelations that he is a theif back up the view of him being weak and spoilt.
- Is horrified by the revelations that his mother turned her away.
- The audience feel sympathy for him, because he does redeem himself at the end of the play.
- Upper class fiancé of Sheila.
- Unlike Eric, he is at ease with himself and others, and has the self confidence of a young man of his class and upbringing.
- He is more like Mr Birling in his views and outlook on life, than he is like Sheila or Eric (who is nearer his age).
- He agrees with the way Mr Birling handels the sacking of Eva.
- When questioned by the Inspector, like Mr and Mrs Birling, his first impulse is to deny everything.
- However, unlike them he shows remorse for his actions when he realises what has happened to the girl.
- He tries to protect Sheila from the revelations about his affair with Eva, and once he has begun his confession, he admits what he has done.
- He is the one who acts on his suspicions about the Inspector, and begins the chain of events which result in finding out the Inspector isn't who he says he is.
- Once he realises this, like the Birlings - (Mr and Mrs), he reverts to a lighthearted attitude which shows that he has not learnt anything from the events.
- The Inspector is described as creating 'an impression of masiveness,solidity and purposefulness'.
- As each of the characters part in the death of Eva is revealed, he remains constand and unmoving.
- Although he is described variously as speaking 'calmly' and 'steadily', he also speaks 'sternly' and 'grimly'.
- There are several refrences to his taking control and interviewing.
- The inspector could be said to be 'a mouth piece' for Priestly's own opionions and as a contrast with the views of Birling, he has also been called 'a dramatic device' to move the plot along.
- It is the Inspector who makes things happen and takes control of how and when things are revealed.
- He decided which order the characters are questioned.
- The fact that he is quite ordinary in appearance underlines the fact he isn't normal in the way he asks questions and his attitude towards the characters.
- He is direct and takes charge on a number of occasions.
- Birling and Mrs Birling remark on his rudeness.
- He is single minded and seems very certain of himself and his facts.
- Seems to be omnicient and Sheila is the one who recognises this most.
- He is a catalyst - seems to be able to get characters to reveal their involvement with Eva because he seems to already know what they are going to say.
- Could be like a confessor figure - with characters revealing their sins to him.
- Doesn't make things easy for the characters, does not pass judgement on them aloud, unlike a real inspector.
- Unlike a priest, he neither forgives nor punishes them.
- Seems to be working to a tight time scale and makes a number of remarks about being in a hurry.
There are various possibilities for who or what Inspector Goole represents:
The voice of conscience
A dramatic device
A ‘ghoul’ or evil spirit
- A forewarning of what the characters will face on Judgment Day
- The power of the Inspectors character lies in not knowing who he is, or what he represents.
- Priestly gives us no clues and leaves it open at the end for personal interpretations.