From the outset, Priestley uses Mrs Birling’s persona to create an unlikeable character, a woman who is described as ‘cold’ in the stage directions, displaying the attitudes she will show in the opening scene. Her attitude to class is shown by her cynical comment – ‘a girl of that class’ – a comment which implies her awareness of her social superiority. This shows the way in which she looks down upon the character of Eva Smith. Similarly, her dismissive attitude towards lower class people is demonstrated by her careful concern for social etiquette and manners. She shows disgust at Sheila’s use of colloquial language, for instance, when Sheila refers to Eric as ‘squiffy’, Mrs Birling is seemingly outraged. This suggests that she would not want to be associated with the dialect used by those of a lower social status. Her character is shown to feel a need to impress Gerald due to his upper class heritage and parenting. This could be represented by her embarrassment when Mr Birling congratulates the cook and tells him off for discussing business. This indicates that she doesn’t want Gerald to get the impression that she or her family would act in such a way.
Her regard to social status is further demonstrated by her involvement with the Brumley Women’s Charity Organization. She uses her position as chairperson to gain authority and importance – just so that she can herself highly and above other people. It is evident that she doesn’t do charity work purely out of altruism. She has a great desire to be high in social status. This all contributes to portraying the image of negativity and creating dislike by highlighting her superiority complex. She is very