‘ A man has to look after himself to make his own way- has to look after himself’ and this is Arthur Birling outlook on life both socially and in business. Arthur Birling also thinks that he is the man of the county, knowing everyone and everyone’s business, ‘ I was an alderman for years and lord mayor two years ago and im still on the Bench’ and he is informing to the inspector, who he has never met before that he is well known and that he has contacts.
He doesn’t want to involve Sheila or Mrs. Birling with the inspector because he thinks they are feeble and thinks that they cannot help with the matter as he thinks it is business and business is only a mans world. After he finds out about all the trouble in the family all he can think about is the reputation of the family and the business. ‘She’d had a lot to say-far to much-so she had to go’ this accounts for Arthur’s treatment of Eva Smith. At the end of the play when they all realize that the inspector was a phoney Mr. Birling just carries on as nothing had happened because all he was thinking about was his reputation and now that he was not a real inspector he thinks he has nothing to worry about but he doesn’t think about Eva Smith or the death.
Mrs. Birling is a very proscriptive woman who always clings to what she thinks is correct, maintaining the old social order. She gives over to the manners delicate sensibilities and that is what she sees in Eva Smith ‘Im talking to the inspector now, if you don’t mind’ she says this with forceful attitude, she also is very calm and she builds herself up for the inspector to come and knock her back with the truth, thinking that she has nothing to do with the death of Eva Smith, ‘I don’t see any particular reason why I should-‘ she cannot see what she has to do with the death and Sheila warns her to stop ” please mother your just building yourself up like we all did and he will break it down like he did to all of us’ but Mrs. Birling wont listen to it and continues to fight the inspector explaining she has nothing to do with the death.
Mrs. Birling is slightly oblivious beyond her own children’s lives, she didn’t know anything about Eric’s drinking which he even drunk at home and she could not see it, with Sheila she did not know anything about her getting Eva fired. ‘Go and look for the father of the child its his responsibility’ this is Mrs. Birling outlook of Eva Smith, when Eva smith came to Mrs. Birling for help this is how she reacted and told her and refused to help her, by Mrs. Birling’s reaction you can guess that she does not know that Eric is the father of the unborn child. ‘
I did nothing wrong that im ashamed of or that wont bear investigation’ Mrs. Birling following this with ‘ I was just doing my duty’ you can start to realize that Mr. and Mrs. Birling are very alike and all they care about their reputation and their business. Mrs. Birling tries to put the blame on to the father, and Sheila tries to stop her as Sheila has worked out that Eric is the father but Mrs. Birling does not listen and carries on ‘Its his responsibility’ ‘ find some steps to find this man and then make sure that he is compelled to confess in public his responsibility’ but of course when she finds out that the father is Eric she cannot agree with it and starts regretting on what she has been saying, ‘ I don’t believe it, I wont believe it….’ But she was too stubborn to listen.
Sheila Birling is a young woman, early twenties. She was involved in Eva Smiths death as she got her sacked from Milwards putting her out of a job. ‘ I couldn’t be sorry for her’ this is an account for Sheila’s treatment of Eva, Sheila was jealous of Eva because she was young, pretty and when Sheila put on a dress it looked awful on her but when Eva out it on it looked perfect. ‘ I behaved badly too. I know I did. Im ashamed of it’ Sheila realizes that she did wrong and that is her lesson she had learnt, but throughout the investigation she had learnt a few things, ‘ we all started like that- so confident, so pleased with ourselves until he began asking questions’ she Is trying to explain to her mother that if they build up a wall to protect themselves denying everything of the investigation then the inspector would just knock it down.
Sheila is very wise as she knows what’s coming and she had worked out everything like Gerald having the affair with her as soon as Gerald heard the name he reacted and Sheila saw how he reacted and started asking question and got him to admit to the inspector, she also picked up on Eric being the father trying to stop her mother saying all the things about finding the father and punishing him ‘mother- stop – stop’ and she is trying to explain to her mother but she would not listen.
After they had realized that the inspector was an intruder everyone had stopped worrying but Sheila and Eric were the only ones thinking that there is still a dead girl they didn’t care about there reputation all they cared about the death of this girl ‘but that wont bring Eva smith back to life will it?’ But even after they completely found out there was no dead girl or inspector all Sheila could think about was the truth which had been spoken about that night, Gerald having an affair, Eric getting a poor girl pregnant, her getting Eva fired but again only her and Eric could think about but everyone else just kept thinking now they were all of the hook they can get back to normal again.