What do you think of Mrs. Birling in "An Inspector Calls"? Watch

thehof123
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What do you think of Mrs. Birling in "An Inspector Calls"?

You should write about:
*how she treats Eva when she comes to her for help
*how she treats her family
*what she thinks about the lower classes
*how she behaves at the end of the play
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askew116
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Could you remind me of the plot? I studied it at GCSE English, but that was 12 years ago now! I know she was a b**** but can't remember the ins and outs of it all
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thehof123
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An Ispector Goole turns up at the Birling household with questions on a girl who has committed suicide, and who has a relation to each family member (without their knowledge) called Eva Smith. One by one, he shows the family members a picture of the girl - who used different names - and they find that they are each to blame to an extent for her death. (The father and daughter put her out of two jobs, the daughter's fiancee cheats with the girl (he does have feelings for her), the brother gets her pregnant, then steals from his father to provide for her,and the mother rejects her grant for money as head of a women's charitable organisation.) The inspector leaves, and there is a discussion about the events, with the younger generation having learnt moral lessons, and Mr and Mrs Birling refusing to accept responsibility by speculating that the whole thing may have been a hoax - being 'practical'. The daughter's fiancee (who left after his encounter with the Inspector), returns with the confirmation that the Inspector was not registered. After some discussion, they phone the infirmary to see whether Eva's body has been taken in, to which they discover it hasn't. Later, just as the parents begin to relax, the police phone about a girl that has just been brought to the infirmary with the same post-morterm as they inquired about.
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askew116
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Thanks, that's rung a few bells.

I seem to remember Mrs Birling being completely unrepentant for the girl's suicide. Being right-wing, upper class in 1912, or thereabouts, she would have been told since childhood that the working-class are, if not exactly scum, at least unworthy of respect, and that the social classes should never mix. That was around the time of the industrial revolution, and the working class were viewed as nothing more than cheap (practically slave) labour. You could also make the comparison between today's 'middle class' and 'chavs' - that although the dynamics have changed slightly, the principle of the class system is still very much in tact.

Mrs Birling in particular seems to be less family oriented than you might consider usual. As I recall, she's very much concerned with her and her family's social status. You could argue that this is to protect her family from being 'brought down' - back in the early 20th century your reputation had more influence on your career than it does now. For instance, anyone who was fired from a job for any reason, would find it very difficult or even impossible to get another job. However, is Mrs Birling simply protecting her family, or is it about herself?

As the twist at the end is revealed, you could argue that the family are right to be relieved. However, a clear moral dilemma has practically torn their family apart - revealing each family members' deepest secrets - and the attitude that they just pretend it never happened is clearly inappropriate, and provides the setup for the final twist. Generally, in story-telling, if the protagonists don't learn anything from the journey they go through, the story is considered weak, and ineffective. As audience members/readers, we are clearly aware that they have not learnt anything, and the final plot twist provides the punishment in that it forces them to confront their demons.



I'm aware that some of these arguments are rather vague, but as I said, I can't remember the play in detail. Hopefully it provides you with some areas to consider though!
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thehof123
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Thanks very much!!
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Chlorophile
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(Original post by askew116)
Could you remind me of the plot? I studied it at GCSE English, but that was 12 years ago now! I know she was a b**** but can't remember the ins and outs of it all
Pretty accurate!
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