Mr Birling Character Essays

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  1. Like many of you, i also have my english lit edexcel exam on Monday , anyway, some people are saying that Mr Birling may be on the exam, so please can you mark this and give me feedback!
    Also, what else is most likely to come up?

    Mr Birling is the father, and leader of the contemptuous Birling family. He is described by Priestly as a ''Portentous'' man. Throughout the play, we see Arthur Birling being conveyed by the play write as a rather pompous and injudicious character. He shows no remorse or concern for his wrongful actions, unless they affect his social status. Birling is also portrayed as a defiant capitalist and extreamly narrow minded.
    Priestly presents Mr Arthur Birling and a ignorant and foolish character with us use of Dramatic Irony. As Mr Birling was delivering his speech at his daughter, Sheila's engagement, he mentioned that the titanic, was ''unsinkable, absaloutley unsinkable''. As the play was written in 1945, we know that this bold statement is far from correct. Instantly, Priestlys use of dramatic irony not only proves that it is a mistaken view, but it allows the audience to understand that Arthur Birling is not wise, but infact a rather stupid and injudicious character.
    Priestly is also conveying that Arthur is very narrow minded. He is only intrested in the present, and does not look to the future, Mr Birling does not have a open mind. Like most men at that time, they believed that nothing could change. They believed that the rich would always rule over the poor, that the labour ''cranks'' could never be a ruling government, and Arthur Birling represents these views.
    Moreover, Priestlys use of repetition on the word ''unsinkable'' suggests that Mr Birling in certain that he is correct, when infatc he is far from it, making him appear to be foolish.
    On the other hand, not only does Priestlys use of the infamous titanic make Arthur look stupid, but it is also a symbol of arrogance. The titanic was a ship for the rich aristocrats of 1912, those who thought they were the hierarchy of society, much like what Mr Birling would like to see himself as. So for priestly to use the titanic as a example suggests that Birling is also a arrogant and pompous chracter.
    Alternitavely,the dramatic quote ''unsinkable, absaloutley unsinkable'' is Priestly foreshadowing the Birlings sinking fate. Mr Birling is so certain that he knows about everything, yet he is not aware that soon he will have a mysterious visitor at the door.

    J.B Priestly uses Mr Birlings talk of war to convey his socialists views to the audience , and opress Arthurs capitalist views. Mr Birling portrays his narrow minded views on war when he says ''you''ll hear some people say that wars inevitable, and to that, i say- fiddlesticks!". The play was written around the time when the second world war was coming to a end, so the audience are aware that Mr Birlings optimistic views are again, incorrect.
    Also, the play was set in 1912, 2 years before the first world war, Priestly uses this small time frame to display Arthur as a injudicious character.
    Priestly was aiming to use the post word war vulnerability of the audience to opress capitalist views and project his socialist views. In 1912, the rigid class and gender boundaries ensured that nothing would change, however by 1945, these divisions had been breached. The writer is aware that audience to not want another war, and from watching this play, do not want times to be like 1912, so he used mr birling as a catalyst to project these negative views.
    Priestly id also saying that capitalists are also like Mr Birling, they all think they are correct, when infact they are far from it.
    Moreover, the writer uses the dramatic quote about ''war'' to remind the audience of what happens when certain individuals seek power for themselves rather than caring for others. His message is to encourage the people of 1945 to seize the opportunity the war had given them to build a better, more caring society.
    As Inspector Goole says, ''we are all members of one body'', dont you agree?

    Priestly also conveys Mr Birling as a imprudent character who only cares about his social status. His behavious remains like this throughout the play. When the inspector arriced, Arthur had to make in known that his soon to be son in law was aristocrat, the ''son of Sir George Croft''. Birling did not even introduce his own son, but rather dismissed him whenever he spoke. This suggests that because of social status, Mr Birling treats Gerald more like a son to gain some sort of social respect.
    Secondly, in 1912 it was uncommon to marry somebody out of your social class, Birling was aware that his family were slightly lower on the social scale than ''Crofts Limited''. However, he made sure that Gerald Croft was aware that he was soon to be added onto the ''honours'' list, so that the Crofts would not dismiss him.
    Even when the inspector left, Arthur did not show any sign or sorrow for Eva Smith, but he was rather more worried about it ruining his reputation. He did not want it to become a ''public scandal''. Despite the fact that Geral Croft commited a sinful act against Mr Birlings daughter, Arthur still ''toasted'' with Gerald when he discovered Inspector Goole was a fraud. Arthur was so happy and relieved that it would not become a ''public scandal'' that he would even drink with someone who caused his daugher pain and distress.
    Alternitavley, the fact that he ''toasted'' with Gerald suggests that he still wants to hold a relationship with him because of his social status. Arthur would use any excuse not to loose a bond with the son of ''Sir George Corft'', and not to loose the potential chance of going in buisness with the succesful ''Crofts Limited''.
    In 1912, witholding a relationship with a aristocrat meant that you could climb up the social ladder, there would be no risk of going on the streets, Eva Smith's summer affair with Gerald Croft is a clear example of this.

    Mr Birling did not learn the morals that Priestly presented through the play ''An Inspector Calls'. He did not understand the fact that sacking Eva Smith from his workplace for his own financial benefit was wrong. Unlike his two children, Eruc and Sheila, who actually acknowldge their wrongdoing and showed remorse. Infact, young Eric who was often dismissed by his ''portentous'' father told him he was ''ashamed'' of him for what he did.
    Priestlys purpose was to again, opress capitalists, and he used Mr Arthur Birling as a catalyst. Arthur was not willing to take responsiblity for his actions, but he infact only cared about how he would look to society. He does not care for people, or in this case, his employees. Priestly used Mr Birling to represent capitalists. He is presenting the message that like Mr Birling, they are not willing to change, and only care for themselves, not their supporters.
    As Mr Birling says '' a man has to look after himself''.
    As a reader, i do not empathise with Arthur Birling as he seems to fail to connect with the writers message of fairness and humblesness. The author portrays him as a foolish character and also uses dramatic irony that capitalists are the cause of diasaster such as war. Birling showed no remorse for a dead girl and even toasted with a adulterer. However, Priestlys use of conveying arthur as a pompous, imprudent and imperious character allowed me to understand socialist views, and to belive that we a''are all responsible'' for eachother, and that ''we are all members of one body''.

    Btw, it took me 2hours to write this! Any suggestions on how time saving techniques?
  2. Ignore me

How to analyse the quotation:

"Well it's my duty to keep labour costs down, and if I’d agreed to this demand for a new rate we'd have added about twelve per cent to our labour costs. Does that satisfy you? So I refused. Said I couldn't consider it. We were paying the usual rates and if they didn't like those rates, they could go and work somewhere else. It's a free country, I told them."

  • "my duty to keep labour costs down" - use of 'my' shows his arrogance, 'duty' suggests he feels an obligation to do this.
  • "Does that satisfy you? So I refused." - asks a question and then answers it himself. Not interested in the views of others.
  • "It's a free country" - it might be 'free' for someone who has money and power, however, Eva Smith had neither.

How to use this in an essay:

Mr Birling shows his arrogance in this speech first by suggesting that it is 'my duty to keep labour costs down'. The fact that he considers it 'my duty' means that he sees keeping labour costs down as some sort of noble quest he has undertaken. Of course, keeping labour costs down increases his own profits. Next he asks if his answer satisfies the Inspector 'Does that satisfy you? So I refused', here he does not even wait for the Inspector to respond, he assumes that he is in the right. 'So I refused' is a short, sharp sentence - here Mr Birling is being dismissive of the Inspector and his investigation as well as the requests of his employees. Finally Mr Birling declares that 'It's a free country', meaning that the girls could work elsewhere. While this might seem like a reasonable point, it shows that Birling does not understand how hard it is for people like Eva Smith to find work in the first place.


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