Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
Turn on thread page Beta
    • Thread Starter

    I would appreciate it if someone could read over my essay and point out any areas that require improving or any further analysis I could.
    I don't think my points are very well linked together so if someone could give me an idea as to how to link them that'd be much appreciated!
    And, if you have any, some more contextual points would be good too.

    Many thanks!

    What Is The Importance Of Eric Birling In An Inspector Calls?

    Priestley uses the character of Eric Birling to show that the younger generation are able to make a difference and change. Whilst at the start of the play Eric is presented as being immature and irresponsible, by the end of the play he seems to understand the need for change and so is regretful for his role within the 'chain of events'
    At the beginning of the play, the stage directions describe Eric as being 'half shy, half assertive' which instantly highlights that he is a neurotic and unstable character. This can be seen through the use of the noun 'half' which has connotations of being incomplete or insufficient, intermitting his lack of self-understanding and confusion. This is further emphasised by the contrast between him being 'shy' and 'assertive' which emphasises his confusion or uneasiness, which may suggest that he is full of secrets and guilty about his actions that lead to Eva's death.
    Priestly also presents Eric as being puerile and juvenile. This can be seen when Eric states 'You told her. Why, you little sneak!' when he finds out that Sheila had told Mrs Birling that he was an alcoholic and the farther of Eva Smith's baby. Here, the use of the exclamation mark reveals Eric's helplessness and true powerlessness, he seems embarrassed to have been involved in the situation which highlights the fact that the Edwardian upper class had little respect for those lower than them in social ranking. Similarly, the pronoun 'you' further emphasise his embarrassment and highlights his need to search for others to hold liable because he can't cope with the disrespect and betrayal. Eric is seen as an immature character at this point of the play and so he finds solace in blaming other's so that he can reduce the blame on himself. His lack of responsibility displays everything that Priestley believed was wrong with the Edwardian upper class.
    However, further on in the play, Priestley shows that Eric can be responsible and that people should learn to recognise their mistakes. This can be seen through when Eric (unhappily) says 'My God - I'm not likely to forget' The adverb 'unhappily' has connotations of being regretful and resentful, suggesting that Eric does actually take responsibility for his actions despite suggesting otherwise earlier in the text. It is clear that Eric is speaking in a regretful tone and is sad about his actions. Furthermore, the hyperbolic interjection of 'My God' shows how distraught he is and exacerbates the impression he has learnt from the Inspector. The fact that Eric accepts he has done wrong emphasises Priestley's overall purpose for writing the novel which is the lesson of social responsibility. Eric is a representation to suggest that there is hope for the younger generation in the future because, much like Eric, we can all learn the lesson of social responsibility too. Priestley aims to influence society and, by sending out his social message, he is able to do so and signify that, like Eric, the younger generation are going to bring about change. However, the fact that Eric doesn't seem 100% confident that he won't ever forget, only stating that he's 'not likely to', shows an implicit awareness that he might forget contrary to the overall content of what he's saying.
    Finally, Eric is again seen to be visibly upset when he stays 'you killed her- and the child she was going to have too - my child - your own grand child - you killed them both - damn you, damn you - ' Here, through the use of the hyphens which create a hesitant structure, Priestley is again able to emphasise Eric's sadness and frustration at what the upper class has done. This links to the socialist views that Priestley himself advocates and shows that, despite the Birlings and Eva being in completely different parts of the social ladder, everybody is interlinked in one way or anther and that Mr Birling's actions have had a profound effect on those of his own class; indeed, on his family and himself. This is further supported by the personal pronoun 'my' which shows that Eric accepts his child as part of the family, even though the mother isn't from the same class as him.
    Overall, Priestley uses Eric to show that the younger and future generations are prepared to change their ways for the future of society as, like Sheila, Eric learns a lesson of social responsibility. He, like his sister, represents the younger generation who can be educated, take care of one-another and therefore help make society a better place for all to live no matter their social status.
Submit reply
Turn on thread page Beta
Updated: October 11, 2017
“Yanny” or “Laurel”
Useful resources

Make your revision easier


Ultimate Of Mice And Men Thread

Plot, context, character analysis and everything in between.


Revision Hub

All our revision materials in one place

Love books

Common grammar and vocabulary problems

Get your questions asked and answered

Useful literary websitesStudy help rules and posting guidelines

Groups associated with this forum:

View associated groups

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.