Compare and contrast Mr. Birling and Sheila Birling Essay

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Compare and contrast the characters of Mr. Birling and Sheila Birling
in their attitudes to social issues.

In the play “An Inspector Calls” by J.B. Priestly, Mr. Birling and
Sheila Birling have contrasting attitudes to social issues. The author
uses this difference to highlight the diversity between generations
and their reactions to situations faced. Arthur Birling is the father
to Sheila Birling and so is presented as the older, “old-fashioned”
generation whereas Shelia is the younger generation, who is more aware
of the responsibilities they have towards other people. (?)

The play begins with Mr. Birling and his family celebrating the
engagement of Sheila to Gerald. The atmosphere is happy and
light-hearted. Before the
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Almost the first thing Mr. Birling says to the Inspector is said to
make an impression. He says, “I was an alderman for years – and Lord
Mayor two years ago – and I’m still on the Bench – so I know the
Brumley police officers pretty well…” His tone of voice is boastful as
if emphasising to the Inspector how important he is. His first
intention is to make a good impression, rather than finding out why
the Inspector has called. When he does ask why the Inspector has
called, he becomes slightly impatient when the Inspector doesn’t fully
answer his question. He clearly feels he is more important than the
Inspector. He then says, “Look – there’s nothing mysterious – or
scandalous – about this business – at least not so far as I’m
concerned.” This sentence doesn’t flow which emphasises Mr. Birling’s
impatience. It also highlights Mr. Birling’s selfishness and attitude
towards other because he is only thinking of himself. He is
immediately dismissing responsibility and his irritation is only to
cover up his worry and embarrassment. Sheila’s reaction to the
Inspector is almost opposite to that of her father’s reaction. Sheila
is not worried about making an impression and almost immediately asks,
“”What’s this all about?” When she hears about Eva Smith’s fate, she
reacts to it unlike her father who said, “Yes, yes. Horrid business”,
which yet again emphasises his impatience by the lack of reaction.
Sheila asks the Inspector about Eva…