Essay On Mrs Birling In An Inspector Calls

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Mrs. Birling, in the opening stage directions by Priestley is introduced as a “rather cold woman and her husband’s social superior”. This is important since readers realise early on in the story that Mrs. Birling is a representative of the aristocracy and her cold nature would be reflective of her pride on that fact. She is portrayed to be very conscious about her social status and extremely authoritative. She clearly likes being in control of things and demonstrates this trait repeatedly in the play. She is also constantly seen correcting flaws and contradicting members of her family. An example of this would be when she responds to Arthur’s statement about the cooks reproachfully, stating, “Arthur, you’re not supposed to say such things”.…show more content…
Birling enters “briskly and self-confidently”, with her social superiority to the Inspector being made very apparent following her social and easy tone. She then proceeds to deny responsibility for Eva’s death, which besides leading audience to form a negative bias towards her, also prompts Sheila to interrupt her and warn her about saying or doing “something that (she’ll) be sorry for afterwards.” This brings about Mrs. Birling’s protective side, with her first instinct being to send Sheila to bed, proclaiming her beliefs and statements to be “nothing but morbid curiosity.” This statement at first glance appears to be a mother sheltering her child from what may be a matter too gruesome to discuss, however, when Sheila denies the request, it is made obvious that the suggestion was made only to get Sheila out of the way, who at this point in the story, according to Mrs. Birling’s beliefs, is greatly impressioned by the Inspector. She conducts in the same manner later in the play, when talking about Eric’s drinking habits, using euphemism to explain his behaviour as “an excitable silly mood” and calling him “only a boy” and also when suggesting that “it would be much better if Sheila didn’t listen” to Gerald’s account of his affair with Eva. This leads the audience to believe that Mrs Birling either does not pay attention to her kids and their…show more content…
This suggests that since Mrs. Birling is of a higher status, her opinions have never been challenged. When disagreed with, she haughtily replies, “I beg your pardon”, perhaps expecting the Inspector to rephrase his words or even change them altogether. However, when he simply repeats what he previously said, she proceeds to call him “impertinent” and proclaims that they have “reason for taking offence”. This leads the audience to develop a negative opinion towards Mrs. Birling, making the character less likable as the play
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