An Inspector Calls- Characters- Arthur Birling

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An Inspector Calls- The Characters

Arthur Birling

- He's a family man, but that is mainly an illusion for society:

  • He's the head of family and is controlling and leading the evening until the Inspector arrives.
  • He has confidence in Sheila and Gerald's happiness; he makes speeches about it and calls it one of the "happiest nights" of his life.
  • However the revelations of the Inspector cause his family to fall apart- Eric is revealed as unreliable having stolen money from the company. Eric says that he doesn't trust his father because "You're not the kind of father a chap can go to"
  • Sheila also grows away from her father- she is no longer the obedient child and is disgusted by Birling's refusal to accept responsibility for his actions. ("But these girls aren't cheap labour- they're people")

- He's also a successful business man, and proud of it:

  • His business is smaller than the Croft's, but the marriage could be leading to a merge- Birling sees this as an opportunity.
  • Birling is also very proud of his business and confident in his superiority because of it- he constantly refers to himself as a "hard-headed practical man of business"
  • He is confident but is portrayed as misguided- he believes that the strikes and the "silly little war scares" will come to nothing- he is wrong and the audience knows it. This contrasts with the Inspector's speech in Act 3 which is scarily accurate.
  • Arthur is also obsessed with his social standing like his wife; he uses his titles from the past to try and influence people.
  • He views the world as survival of the fittest and that "a man has to make his own way"

- One of Birling's key traits is his desire to control:

  • As a public figure he is desperate to avoid a scandal and even tries to bribe the Inspector saying "I'll give thousands"
  • He really hates the Inspector who swiftly overpowers his control on the evening and asks blunt, insulting questions.
  • His family falls apart too and there is nothing





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