- Comes from an upper class family and tends to look down on those below her in society. “I don’t suppose for a moment that we can understand why the girl committed suicide. Girls of that class…” This is almost her scorning the girls’ death. She tries to separate herself from people of lower classes, and shields Sheila from them as well. Suggesting that Sheila would never go to something as low class as suicide, this comes across as a very haughty tone of voice.
- Thinks the best of herself and doesn’t like admitting she is wrong. “(haughtily) I beg your pardon!”. This could be due to coming from an upper class family and therefore feels she is superior to others. When people contradict her, she takes it offensively.
- Lacking in sympathy or empathy for others.
- Unfriendly and distant. “A rather cold woman.” Also suggests that she doesn’t socialise with others, more than strictly necessary and would be a difficult person to try and get to know.
- Gives vague answers and responses. “What did she reply to that? … Oh, a lot of silly nonsense.” This could be due to feeling superior to the Inspector? Feels as though she is under no obligation to answer to his questions. It could also suggest that she doesn’t think the event was worth anything and that Eva Smith was also beneath her.
- She is stubborn and won’t accept responsibility of any kind. “But I accept no blame for it at all”.
- Prominent member of the comity, and holds a lot of influence over the others. “Was it, or was it not you influence? …Yes it was”. Suggesting a position of power.
- She is very judgemental over others. “Yes it was, I didn’t like her manners” Straight away she took a disliking to the girl. Perhaps firstly, just because of her class. However then she picked out other features that annoyed her.
- A selfish person, who only protects himself and his business. “Look – there is nothing mysterious or scandalous about this business… it has nothing whatsoever to do with the wretch girls’ suicide”. If a link between the suicide and his business is proven, then his reputation could be damaged. Therefore he is only trying to protect himself. Calling the girl a ‘wretch’ is almost suggesting that the girl couldn’t look after herself. Birling tries to clear his name, by putting the blame on someone else (the girl herself.)
- He is an important character in society, behaving as though he is upper class. “Lord Mayor two years ago and I’m still on the bench”. He is looked up upon by those around him. Scorns the lower class, which is ironic because he was actually born into a lower class family. Money is self earned and now he splashes this around, to impress others.
- Birling attempts to control others…