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Mrs. Birling: An Inspector Calls

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    How is Mrs. Birling presented in ‘an inspector calls’ and what does this reflect about Priestley’s ideas? In the play ‘An Inspector calls’ Priestley presents Mrs Birling as a; immoral, proud, prejudice, bad mother. Priestley presents Mrs Birling as being proud of her social status; he uses Mr Birling to highlight this ‘Arthur you’re not supposed to do such things’. Mrs Birling is the social superior of the Birling family and tells her Husband Mr Birling off for mentioning how ‘very nice’ the meal was, as the cook was of a lower class.

    This emphasises her prejudice character. Mrs Birling later scolds her daughter, Sheila for talking in slang ‘what and expression Sheila! Really the things you girls pick up these days! ’. Mrs Birling does this as she does not believe that her daughter should talk like that. This emphasises Mrs Birling’s views on the importance of manners. Priestley’s use of Mrs Birling highlights his view on the unnecessary need for social boundaries. Priestley presents Mrs Birling as ‘sitting in the chair’ for a charity which helps ‘women in need’.

    Mrs Birling describes the charity as only‘helping deserving cases’, the word ‘ deserving’ highlights Mrs Birling’s uncharitable nature as all women who go to the charity are in need of some kind of help. Priestley presents Mrs Birling as being immoral as she ‘turned down’ not only a women, but a women in who was ‘going to have a child’ this highlights Mrs Birling’s lack of maternal instincts and immoral behaviour, as she ‘refused’ a women ‘who could not have needed’ help more, and as a mother herself she would have ‘known what she was feeling’ but she ‘slammed the door in her face’.

    Mrs Birling also uses her ‘influence’ within the charity to get other members to reject the ‘girl’. Therefore Mrs Birling uses her power in the charity to corrupt the views of other people. Priestley’s use of Mrs Birling emphasises to the audience his views of collective responsibility and selfishness. As Mrs Birling feels she has no responsibility for others and is selfish enough to persuade others view her point. Preistley presents Mrs Birling as not learning from the Inspector’s message, as she does not change but she regrets not asking ‘him a few questions’.

    This highlights her immoral and selfish nature. Mrs Birling refuses to ‘accept’ any ‘blame’ for the death of Eva Smith, which her actions contributed to her death. Mrs Birling feels no remorse for her actions as she believes it was ‘her duty’ to ‘turn down’ a pregnant woman as she ‘didn’t like her manor’. Priestly has used Mrs Birling to highlight her rejection of collective responsibility and her selfish and immoral nature.

    This reflects the opposite of Priestley’s own views on collective responsibility, Priestley agrees with the inspector that ‘if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught it in fire blood and aguish. ’ Therefore they believe that collective responsibility is essential. To conclude Mrs Birling is a selfish and immoral character In ‘an Inspector Calls’ Priestly uses, Mrs Birling to express the opposite of his true views, on collective responsibility and moral behaviour. Priestley uses Mrs Birling to teach the audience a lesson and to show them how not to behave.

    Mrs. Birling: An Inspector Calls. (2016, Oct 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/mrs-birling-an-inspector-calls/

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