He is self-centred and cares mainly about himself and watches hi reputation constantly. Mentioning his business constantly in all speeches he makes. When Gerald and Sheila where celebrating their engagement Birling makes another small speech but it is discussing the new business partner made not the new son-in-law, “Your just the kind of son in law i’ve always wanted. Your father and I have been friendly rivals in business for sometime… and now you’ve brought us together to have lower costs at higher prices! ” Birling tends also to get things wrong.
He mentions issues that we as a later audience know are incorrect but at the time he believed along with others that wars will never happen and the titanic was unsinkable. The main question about Birling is should and can we like this man? Well in one sense he is arrogant and self centers, as he accepts no guilt or blame and refuses all allegations to be part of this girls death, but on the other side he is a business man and is very protective, therefore he could just be protecting his family and the things most important to him like any business man would do.
Also there’s the issue of him believing in no wars as everyone will mind their own and nothing will happen, where we know he is wrong but every one at that time thought there would be no wars and believed the titanic was unsinkable. You only stop believing in something when it happens. The audience is supposed to slightly dislike Birling I think but also accept that he is standing up for his beliefs and [protecting what is his and what is important. So the dislike is greater but not great enough to hate him. This makes the audiences reaction emotional and complicated and adds to the effect f the events in the play.
Priestley used characters to show his views and the argument they could cause, just like he used Birling as a capitalist to prove wrong he used the Inspector as a socialist, which was his view. Priestley used the inspector as a mouthpiece. He mainly showed his views through the comments and reactions to the answers made by the Birling family. This view of socialism runs through the entire play and is very important in the play as it contributes a lot to the main aim of the play. As soon as the inspector enters the mood and the air changes.
The lights change as the inspector enters, they go a lot brighter and harsher top signify the change and the harshness of the inspector mirrors the light change. Also the inspector’s appearance is visible different. The Birlings are all in formal evening wear and the inspector is described in stage directions as “creates at once an impression of massiveness, solidity and purposefulness… He is dressed in a plain dark suit of the period and an overcoat. ” So from as soon as he enters he has already made an impact on the Birlings by looking stern and solidity meaning unbreakable.
All these are dramatic devices. Another dramatic device which was used in the play that we watched was that The inspector is always stood on the street instead of in the house (which was raised up of the street) This was to give the feel that the Birlings were more important and higher up in the classes. As the play goes on the inspector grows as each character is revealed. He remains solid and intact as each of them breaks down and nothing the others can do or say distracts him from his purposes.
He uses very strong but unorthodox methods of questioning. Not only does he manage to get all the needed information out of each and every person but also he gives his own opinions at points after answers. This confuses the Birlings as they know very well that a police inspector should question and get information and not to give comment or opinions of any kind. But this method is not only to help imply that the inspector is very different but it also helps Preistley convey his message across.
This also helps his control the questioning. Mr. Birling tries to control it but the inspector takes control and puts every one back where they need to be. The inspector seems to have very little emotion if any. He tells the gruesome facts and details of the death and of what each character did yet he does not shown any emotions other than that of socialism. This adds to the supernatural feeling about him. Any normal person even police inspectors would feel some slight emotion through all that was said but not inspector Goole.
At the end of the play it is suggested that the inspector was not a real inspector but he may have not even been real. Goole (the inspectors name) is a pun, or play on words with ghoul, a ghost or a supernatural form. Supernatural usually have special powers, o does the inspector have them? Well he does seem to know all before the characters tell him and he seems to be in the right place at the right time. He is Omniscient especially and also omnipresent. You would associate these with a god, which is really supernatural as there is no true proof that it exists.
This gives the entire play but especially at the end a feel of mystery and makes it all unnerving. The inspector being omniscient acts as a catalyst. The play was set in 1912, which was the world of the Birlings, and there was a massive gap between the middle class people and the working class people. The working classes were thought of the lowest of the low and where no match for middle classes. This is shown in the play by The Birlings being middle class and Eva smith/daisy Renton being working class and the differences in their lives.
But the audience of 1945 was beginning to question this and was expecting this to close. The time was ripe for change. Preistley preaches this message across by saying comments such as “”if men will not their that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire and blood and anguish. ” this was the message for the 1912 for world war one and the audience of 1945 for world war one and all the other wars. Saying everyone will have to join together so why understand it not rather than later when you will pay the consequences. He was rather successful in preaching this message.
This was also helped by the fact that the inspector seemed to affect the younger generations, “You seem to have made a great impression on this child inspector”, and the children and younger generations like Eric and Sheila are the future. This means that if they have been affected their beliefs will have changed therefore the future beliefs will have changed. This was the main aim of priestly in the play. To change the beliefs of the future generations so that they can lead the future in a different and more socialist point of view.
The inspector made warnings to the elder generations mainly using fire blood and anguish meaning hell, war and personal suffering. The lesson will be learnt sooner or later but it would be easier to learn it sooner or pay the consequences later. When the inspector first arrived the doorbell rang then he entered and changed everything, once the inspector had gone and all things had changed, Gerald and the rest discover he was not an inspector but the phone rings and a second inspector is arriving for the same questioning. The doorbell and the phone ringing is a dramatic device used to show a circular view of time.
The Birlings are given a second chance of time to change their future outcome and their involvement in this girl’s death. The audience’s response will be mainly mysterious. Questions such as will they change their story? Will appear in their mind and they will leave the theatre thinking of the characters involvement and reactions. Birling and Mrs. Birling and also a but Gerald are claiming no blame and guilt but Sheila and Eric are affected by it and are realizing that if they had changed there ways this may not have happened.
I think that the audience will go out thinking more on Sheila and Eric’s side and that they will become more socialist thinking. It has affected them by changing their points of views and there feelings towards others and themselves. I think that this was Preistley’s main aim all along. To change capitalist thinking and everyone else to socialists.