Arthur Birling In J. B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls

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From the opening directions by JB Priestley, readers gather that Arthur Birling is a manufacturer who takes pride in his wealth and flaunts the same. This is illustrated right away by the mention of his “fairly large suburban house” and his “substantial and heavily comfortable (furniture)”. The family also owns a parlourmaid, who is seen to be “clearing the table, which has no cloth, of dessert plates and champagne glasses, and then replacing them with decanter of port, cigar box and cigarettes.” The use of the specific cutlery for the food seems over exaggerated for the particular function, which happens to be a family occasion. They also have a selection of expensive food items to eat, giving the scene a very formal and high-class look.…show more content…
He even makes a point to list out all his positions, specifying that he “was an alderman for years- and Lord Mayor two years ago.” He also brings about his familiarity with the Brumley Police, presumably to intimidate the newly transferred inspector. However, when told that the issue was in regards to the death of a young woman in the infirmary, Birling is portrayed to be extremely impatient and cold hearted, retorting the information saying, “But I don’t understand why you should come here, Inspector.” Even upon being informed of his role in the gruesome matter, he is heard to say, “Look- there’s nothing mysterious- or scandalous- about this business- at least not so far as I’m concerned.” In fact, Birling goes so far as to threaten the inspector, angrily declaring, “Look here, Inspector, I consider this uncalled-for and officious. I’ve half a mind to report you. I’ve told you all I know- and it doesn’t seem to me very important.” Birling’s stubbornness in accepting any responsibility leads the audience to view him as an immature individual, who is extremely stubborn and selfish, with him only concerned about his own family and social

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