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Mrs Birling

Year 11 exploration of the significance of Mrs Birling in An Inspector Calls

Suzy Pett

on 3 October 2013

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Transcript of Mrs Birling

When Mr Birling talks of topics which aren't interesting, Mrs Birling shows she's gained superior over him by arguing back to what he says. KH
Mrs Birling
Will not understand that she did wrong and that she is part of the 'chain of events' LG
'I accept no blame for it all' LG

Mrs Birling talks down to the inspector so as to try and gain power LG
'simply because I've done nothing wrong and you know it' LG
'You know it' as if she is so important the inspector should know all about her. This is ironic as the inspector seems to be omniscient in this play. However she is so busy thinking about herself she does not realize this as Sheila does LG
Mrs Birling is presented to feel she is too high up in social status to ever do wrong LG
A 4minute film about Mrs Birling LG
Likes to be right and have authority and power over others. AW
talking to the inspector now if you don't mind." AW
Being very patronising. The sentence ends in a full stop and not a question mark; this shows it is more of a command then a question and an implication for them to be quiet. AW
' About fifty, a rather cold woman and her husband's social superior.' AW
Highly prejudiced, especially towards people of a lower class to her. AW
"As if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money!" AW
Acts quite incredulously that a poor girl would ever refuse stolen money. AW
She keeps a strong sense of social hierarchy. AW
Suggests lower class people have no morals and that they all just want to steal. AW
Mrs Birling tries to deny things that she doesn't believe in for example; Eric's drinking and encounter with Eva. TPS
(To Inspector Goole) ‘You know of course that my husband was Lord Mayor
only two years ago...’ TPS
Mrs Birling is presented
as extremely hypocritical
This suggests that Mrs Birling is only concerned with social status and reputation and Priestley portrays her as trying to intimidate the Inspector with her social position by using the phrase 'of course'. This conveys that Mrs Birling thinks her and her family are well known and everyone knows the ins and outs of the Birlings. TPS
Mrs Birling is shown to be a materialistic woman only concerned with social rules and reputation, which includes what the rest of society think of her. TPS
'he's only a boy'
this is said by Mrs Birling
when she is denying Eric's drinking
problem reflecting her maternal issues
and highlighting her difficulties at
moving on and letting go, therefore
holding her children back restraining
their development
Husband Mr Birlings' social superior and is image conscious, doesn't want her reputation to be ruined. TPS
'she was claiming
elaborate and scruples
that were simply absurd in a girl
of her position'
This reflects Mrs Birlings hypo-
critical and also a very
nature towards girls of the lower class
This insinuates that Mrs Birling believes that seeing as all lower class people in her opinion steal and do not regard the law with the proper respect in Eva's situation it would have been more acceptable for Eva to take the stolen money than to apply to her charity.
Mature woman that has no attachment to her family: 'rather cold woman' 'about 50' TPS
The hypocritical nature of Mrs Birling is highlighted when she criticizes Eva's attempt to
present herself in the dignified way possible as in Mrs Birlings opinion there was no way any of it could be true, this is significant because Mrs Birling continuously presents herself as whats currently considered the social epitime of what the ideal upper class woman should behave like.
Mrs Birling appears to be too important to have an interest in Eva Smiths death, she cant accept the blame for her role in the 'chain of events'. AMS
' as if a girl of that sort would ever refuse money!' Mrs Birling is very stubborn as she has a fixed view on poor people and implies that lower class and upper class are completely different and separate people. AMS
Mrs Birling is shown to be uncaring toward the rest of society and appears very self absorbed. RB
This shows the capitalist ideology of the Birling family, as they look down on the lower class and fail to see their moral obligations. RB
Mrs Birling tells Eva to face her own problems herself and to let the man responsible sort it out. However, she never comes to accept her problems with Eva and hides from them by denying that it was her fault. KH
Mrs Birling runs a charity to help
women though she is very resistant
to helping her at all. She can easily
see that Eva needs help but she keeps
finding excuses not to help her and to
put the responsibility of her on someone
else. KH
The use of the pronoun 'I' depicts Mrs. Birlings attempt to take control of the situation in order to get her way. Her patronising language portrays how she uses her social status to take charge. SK
The significance of Priestley's choice of punctuation depicts the controlling attitude of the capitalist ideology and disrespect for others as Mrs. Birling treats even Sheila and Gerald as children. Thereby creating capitalism to be selfish and egotistical further influencing Priestley's theme of a morality play as he educates the audience to the pejorative nature of capitalists. SK
Priestley portrays Mrs Birling to be in denial at the start of the play to contrast with Sheila who has begun to understand the concept of social responsibility. GCP
This emphasises Mrs Birling's ignorance as she does not accept the blame for the death of Eva Smith, and is not aware of her own sons drinking habits. GCP
''I did nothing I'm ashamed of'' GCP
Priestley insinuates Mrs Birlings ignorance to show her narrow sense of morality and little responsibility as she refuses to admit she had anything to do with the death of Eva Smith. Therefore portraying Mrs Birling as a remorseless and narcissistic character depicting the capitalist ideology. SK
Admits to being prejudiced towards Eva Smith yet cannot accept any blame for her actions. SK
''I think it was simply a piece of gross impertinence - quite deliberate - and
that was one of the things that prejudiced me against her case" GCP

The adverb 'naturally' depicts the capitalist view of it being acceptable to be prejudice against the lower class as though it is something we are born with. GCP

''Naturally I don't know anything about this girl'' SK
Priestley uses the adverb 'naturally' to create the sense of normality in the classing system within the capitalist ideology to portray how Mrs Birling attempts to dissociate herself with Eva Smith and the lower class when in fact she works for a charity which helps women who are members of the lower class. SK
Mrs Birling is trying to normalise her narrow minded behavior and this adverb naturally makes her come across very confident on the outside and dismissive about the subject, whereas inside she may be a bit more worried. RB
The news of Eva's death doesn't seem to have taught her anything, because she keeps ignoring the fact that she didn't help her and tries to show that what she did was right, "you're quite wrong to suppose I shall regret what I did". KH
Furthermore, at first she was very confident that her family got nothing to do with Eva's murder, however as it comes to end of Act 2, she realizes that it was her son who got Eva pregnant. K.P
Mr Birling is highly capitalist and when it comes to their celebration of Shelia's engagement to Gerald, he talks about how his company and Crofs company will come together. K.P
Mrs Birling sees her family as having no problems G.M
All the problems lay outside of the family G.M
So confident to lay blame on the father of Eva's child as she is lacking the vital information about who he is G.M
Shows lack of personal attachment to death, tries to distance herself and her family from it G.M
Reflects Capitalist Ideology of everyone looking after themselves G.M
"In the circumstances I think I was justified" GW
This shows Mrs Birling doesn't realise that just because she thinks she's right that the others will. She is trying to prove the Inspector wrong and regain power of the situation and make him look foolish by showing that she is in the right for doing what she did. This further highlights how she hasn't grasped the idea of chain of events GW
Insinuating that all lower class people have these morals, they all steal money anyway so why would Eva refuse this money. GW
Ironic because Eva is the most moral out of them all. GW
Not a very caring or loving mother GW
Mrs Birling's refusal to help Eva is also due to her classist attitude. Though it is because of her vulnerable state that Eva asks for help, it is the core reason why Mrs Birling refuses to even consider helping her.CJ
Mrs Birling's surprise at this revelation also shows how she chooses to be ignorant to things that could damage her family's reputation, or could be an 'inconveniance'to her family's lavish lifestyle. Alternatively this representation of her may suggest that she was not very warm towards her children, and that perhaps she lacks empathy even to that extent. CJ

refuses to accept her role in
problems regarding the lower class E.Y

Mrs Birling is very judgemental about everybody's actions, except her own. CJ
Treats Sheila and Eric as if they are still children. Has to have a superior role in both her family and social class. E.Y
Comes across as a fool when the truth
about Eric is revealed. Very shocked that Eric
could do something so bad. EY.

Tries to maintain a professional and
upper class atmosphere, even in her
family. EY
Mrs Birling is very prejudiced and backwards when it comes to the role of a woman in her family and society. S.Y.

"When you're married you'll realize that men with important work sometimes have to spend all their time and energy on business. You'll have to get used to that, just as I had." S.Y.
"You know of course that my husband was Lord Mayor only two years ago and that he's still a magistrate
This quote reveals that Mrs. Birling thinks that the role of a women within the family is to be obedient and patient to the husband even when he is neglecting her. S.Y.
When Mrs. Birling is trying to take power and intimidate the Inspector into regarding her as someone who deserves superior treatment, she does not use her own status as a "prominent member- of the Brumley Women's Charity" but refers to her husband's status to do so. S.Y.
"Go and look for the father of the child. It's his responsibility." The pronoun 'his' suggests Mrs Birling is shirking the responsibility onto someone else. I.B
Dramatic irony as she declares the fault lies with the father which is actually her son. I.B
The Birling's all share the same capitalist view that "a man has to make his own way - has to look after himself" I.B
"you may have to conduct some sort of inquiry, but I must say that so far you seem to be conducting it in a rather perculiar and offensive manner." I.B
Mrs Birling has juxtaposed the Inspector's words against her own, implying she thinks she can over rule him. She is firm in her point that he is being "peculiar and offensive" whereas the Inspector is being vague with his intentions regarding the inquiry. I.B
Mrs Birling uses the modal verb "must" suggesting she feels strongly that it is her obligation to follow social rules and expectations. I.B
"some sort of inquiry" shows Mrs Birling's lack of understanding about the current situation. I.B
Tries to maintain the idea that she is the social superiority within the family. SR
Just like her husband, Mrs Birling wants her reputation to remain intact and unaffected by any scandals and therefore, distances herself from any negative impact in her life. SR
This indicates Mrs Birling is very ignorant to those around her and to those she deems insignificant to her life. SR
Mrs Birling is very hypocritical as she runs this charity to help the lower classes but when a person who is in need of help comes, in Mrs Birling immediately shuns her due to personal reasons, with no thought to the girls situation. SR
This insinuates that Mrs Birling is very full of herself, viewing herself as perfect without seeing who she really is. This shows her self esteem is built upon a facade. SR
This indicates that capitalist ideology is very ignorant towards any misdemeanor that is deemed unimportant or a fact of life. SR
As she has married a man below her status the lack of remorse is almost understandable as she, within her circle of life, has not done as well as others e.g. Lady Croft. SR
This further suggests that Mrs. Birling still sees Eric as a young boy who cannot possibly
know about drinking so her surprised reaction conveys how little she truly knows about the family's problems and is more concerned with social appearance. HS

She herself is offended when she says "peculiar and offensive manner" which suggests that she finds Inspector Goole to be peculiar and offensive towards her
Shows no compassion towards Eva and the use of 'I' suggests her self importance. It is both ironic and an indication to her hypocrisy that she says she is unwilling to permit the Inspector to use his power over her, when she has used her power over Eva Smith clearly depicting that she sees herself above the law HS
Dresses from the 1910's. An insight to what Mrs.Birling might have worn in order to appear rich and wealthy to any visitors HS
Furthermore, this is quite ironic, as Eva is the character with the most morals in the play. RB
Trying to manipulate others to agree with her HYL
Feels no guilt and no social responsibility.HYL
The repeated use of personal pronoun 'his' depicts Mr.Birling's selfish and arrogant view of the world. Might be far going, but I would like to point out Mr.Birling may have been shaped in this way becaus eof the 19th century industrial revolution, the time and society her lived in had great impact on his way of thinking.
Ironic. A chairty shop is supposed to do the purpose of helping the unfortunate and care about the welfare of under class. However, mrs.B uses her positon as a prominent member of the committee to give help to ppl she approves of/who she likes-a very biased, subjective wasy of running a charity. HYL
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