Mrs. Birling is the wife of Arthur Birling and is the mother to Sheila and Eric. There are some important aspects to the character, which we will look into today. These are: What Mrs. Birling represents, the difference between the generations, her relationships with her husband and Inspector Goole, her presence on stage and our reaction to her as an audience.
Mrs. Birling is a typical upper class woman, who behaves, as she would be expected to. Women were considered to be less important than men, and were expected to be demure and submissive to their male counterparts. She acts as head of the family, although she almost uses her husband as spokesperson allowing him to propel the family into the public eye, whilst she almost masterminds how the family will make themselves more acceptable into higher social circles. She acknowledges the strict divisions and abides by them without fail. She is against socialism, something that is used by Priestley in order to make the audience dislike the character. But, she is hypocritical. She is quite masculine in the way that she dominates the family, as well as the fact that she has a job as head of a charity which shows us that she not only is intelligent, but also that she is unusual for a woman of the time as jobs were usually held by men.
Mrs. Birling, unsurprisingly, shows no remorse for her role in Eva’s death, in fact she doesn’t even acknowledge that she had any part in her death. At the beginning of the play, she seems rather detached from the rest of the family, rarely making an input in the conversation, something, which is quite unusual at what, appears to be a happy celebration. She, like her husband, is more concerned about their public image in relation to Eva’s death, than the fact that her actions have led to the suicide of a young girl. She is excited when Gerald reveals that there is no police officer by the name of Goole, showing that she hasn’t learnt...
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