Asked by LukeEnglish 🇬🇧

How does JB Priestley portray the character of mr birling at the beginning on act one in an inspector calls?

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Michael Wiggins

I am passionate about teaching, and have more than 10 years of experience

My Birling is presented as a successful businessman, who has been active in local politics and was Lord Mayor of Brumley, although it may become clear that he does not care about the local community. Mr Birling is also the wife of Sybil Birling and the father of Sheila and Eric. From the first of stage directions, we know that the family of is comfortable in their wealth and also found out that Arthur Birling's wife is his social superior, implying that he began in a lower class and worked his way up to the upper class he is in now. Arthur Birling likes to inform others of his wealth and of the important people he knows, which may be understandable considering how hard he has worked to be where he is and would like to bask in the glory. From the very first stage directions, we see, at the start of the play we found out that Priestly described Arthur Birling as a "heavy-looking, a rather portentous man". From these stage directions, it reveals that Mr Birling is quite large in size which may help to give him a threatening appearance. However, this appearance does not seem to intimidate the inspector, because during some parts of act one the inspector has the higher status and controls the scene; this shows that his appearance is quite ironic. Arthur Birling is the father to Sheila and in Act One he is hosting an engagement party for his daughter and her fiance, Gerald Croft. Gerald makes a few speeches throughout Act One, during one of them he says, "Gerald, your engagement with Sheika means a tremendous lot to me...Crofts and Birling are no longer competing but are working together - for lower costs and higher prices." This suggests that maybe Mr Burling cares more about his business than he does about his daughter's future. Priestly is, therefore, presenting his character as rather pompous and very self-centred, something you wouldn't normally expect to find in a father figure, possibly indicating the time in which this play is set; work was possibly more important than man's children, especially as he has worked from the lower class to the upper class he is in now. After reading Act One, we know that Mr Birling announces many speeches, much to the rest of the families dismay, however, Mr Birling is described as being 'rather provincial in his speech' this further confirms how he was not always of a high social status and explains why he is not very good with light-hearted social conventions, 'tell cook from me,' Mrs Birling does not approve as it is not customary to thank the staff for it was believed that they did a good job regardless, however, Mr. Birling thinks this is utterly acceptable. One of the first things Mr Birling says is quite inappropriate for him to mention, 'exactly the same port as your father gets,' Mr Birling is truing to impress Gerald and therefore his father as they are of a higher class as him and also a rival company he hopes to join. During one of his speeches, he refers to Sir George's Wife as 'er-Lady Croft'. This uncertainty of what her name implies that they are unlikely to have met even though his daughter is marrying her son. Mr Birling, obsessed with social status seems to put Gerald's happiness before that of his daughters, 'she'll make you happy and I'm sure you'll make her happy.' He says this as if Sheila's contentment is a mere afterthought just so long as she is marrying above herself shes's expected to be pleased. The character of Mr. Birling is presented by Priestley as a very pompous, self-obsessed and rather boastful in Act One.

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