'An Inspector Calls': J.B.Priestley Character Study

Essay by HelsinkiHigh School, 10th grade March 2004

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The play 'An Inspector Calls' is about a prosperous manufacturer, Mr Birling and his family's involvement in a young woman's suicide.

As the play is set in 1912, we can use the film 'Titanic' for comparison, as the film was also set in this year. Therefore, we can see that my character Eric Birling would most likely be wearing a black suit, with a white shirt underneath, a white waistcoat and a white tie. He would be wearing this, as it is a family dinner party to celebrate his sister, Sheila's engagement to Gerald Croft.

Eric is quite a young man in his early twenties. He has been to private school and lived away from home most of his life, resulting in his parents not really knowing him. He has been a heavy drinker for quite a while, so the actor playing him should look slightly pale and ill.

Although he doesn't seem to have a very strong personality, he is characterised as being 'half-shy, half-assertive'. I think this is a good phrase to use for his personality, as it changes through the play. At the beginning of Priestley's play, I think Eric is quite shy and doesn't really feel like part of the family, as he doesn't talk much to the other characters. Later in the play, when he has had some alcohol and after he hears about Eva Smith's death, he becomes a lot more talkative and becomes angry towards his parents. He talks to them rudely and tells his father what he really thinks about his society, 'Oh-for God's sake! What does it matter now whether they give you a knighthood or not?' (pg 57).

I think Eric can treat other people quite badly sometimes. This is mainly when he is drunk or when he...