Husband of Sybil Birling and father to Eric and Sheila Birling. He is the owner of Birling and Company, a factory business which employs Eva Smith. He is a magistrate and was Lord of Brumley. He is firmly capitalist, even right wing.
Arthur Birling is a social climber, he is socially inferior to his wife and she constantly corrects him on his manners. This is shown in the opening when he is shown to be 'rather provincial in his speech' therefore he is possibly from the working classes even though he tries to distance himself from them saying things like 'If you don't come down sharply on some of these people, they'd soon be asking for the earth'- meaning he is also hypocritical.
Priestley makes Birling out to be a fool through use of dramatic irony, by having him describe war as 'fiddlesticks' and the Titanic as 'unsinkable' to the audience of the time these statements would have been laughable.
To his children, he is quite a looming and forbidding figure as Eric tells him he is 'not the sort of father a chap could go to', he also interrupts his children and over rules their own opinions with his saying things like 'Just let me finish, Eric. You've a…