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Character Study Inspector Calls

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Arthur Birling

He is a prosperous factory owner, not the social equal of his wife. His first priority is to make money as he said 'It's my duty to keep labour cost down'. He is 'a self made man' and an old fashioned believer as he believes "that a man has to make his own way". He does believe in "community and all that nonsense." He believes that each man should be self confessed and seek no help, but everyone needs help occasionally so this is an arrogant and foolish statement. He does not consider the harm he may cause to other people because of his attitude. He keeps on making the point that he is a 'hard headed practical business man' and that he knows everything. When Mr Birling initially hears that "an inspector's called", he assumes that it is some thing to do with a warrant because he is still on the bench, he would not dare think that he was the one actually in trouble. Even when introducing himself to the inspector he manages to fit in a few sentences about his status.

Mrs Birling

She is a well-mannered woman but one who knows her power of authority (being the wife of a well-off businessman). Mrs. Birling is hard-faced and arrogant like her husband. She is snobbish, and expects others to show her respect. When subject to criticism, Mrs. Birling retreats behind words like 'respectable', 'duty', and 'deserving'. She seems to feel that she is qualified to judge what such words mean. She thinks that people from the 'lower classes' have different feelings from her own and that they are almost a different species. She tries to put people down to make herself feel better and more in control. She also has a superiority complex as she reminds Gerald that they once had royalty visit them because Gerald is a high socialite she feels he is the perfect son in law. She puts her son Eric down and we get the feeling that she is not proud of him and does not approve of him as much as she does Gerald. We see this when she tells Gerald to act like part of the family and then tells Eric to keep quiet.

Sheila Birling

Sheila seems to be fairly naive and acts like a younger girl. Sheila is possessive of Gerald we see this when she says that she would hate for him to become an expert on port "like one of those purple faced old men". She seems very bubbly and she is always happy about everything. She is far more conscientious and more sensitive than any of the others, and she does not express her opinion as frequently or forcefully as her parents. She is ready to marry into future wealth, something her father wants more than anything. She is closer to her farther than her mother as her mother was strict with the upbringing of her children. Eric and Sheila are very close, as they may argue but they

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