Erics character and his function within
In an Inspector Calls Priestley aims to show that all actions have repercussions. He also tells us that charity isn’t always good charity unless it is thoughtful and helps someone as it can often just leave people in a worse off position. Eric helps Priestley to achieve this aim by thinking he is helping Eva but actually he leaves her in a worse position without realising it as he shows her what she could have had. Priestley also wants us to think about how the younger generation can change their views easily and how they are influenced by their parents who can’t change their views as easily.
Eric starts the play as a capitalist but then changes to a socialist as he realises it is better whereas Mr and Mrs Birling don’t change. Priestley also wants to show that often situations are influenced and linked to other situations and how socialism is better than capitalism and this is shown at the end of the book by Eric and Sheila becoming better people because of changing from capitalist to socialist and admitting that they have wronged. Eric is first introduced as he ‘ guffaws’ with laughter at the meal which is rude as the family don’t know what about and neither does he this shows that he has no respect. He is presented as a rowdy character who likes a drink and in the stage directions it says ‘not too rudely’ and ‘rather noisily’ before Eric speaks.
He acts in a drunk manner throughout the meal and Sheila says ‘you’re squiffy’ as she knows him well unlike Mr and Mrs Birling who don’t have a clue what he is capable of and what he has been up too. When the inspector turns up Eric responds in an irresponsible way and doesn’t admit to anything. Eric steals money from his father’s business to ‘help’ Eva this is an irresponsible thing to do but he is only trying to help but without realising it he actually makes the situation worse as he doesn’t realise what the long term effects will be. When Eric gets Eva pregnant he tries to be responsible for it whereas Gerald just leaves it and has nothing to do with it. Eric is quiet and leads a sheltered life because of his parents but they don’t actually understand him.
Eric brings out other characters in the book as well. He shows that Gerald is very irresponsible and mean because at least Eric tries to help Eva whereas Gerald just leaves her and is the final person to push her over the edge. Eric takes responsibility as admits what he has done and he realises that life isn’t as easy as he thought because he realises that everything is linked. Eric also brings out the characters of Mr and Mrs Birling because they are quick to judge the man who got Eva pregnant until they realise it was Eric when even then they don’t change their views as they are to protective over their business and their status and image.
He also brings out their characters by changing and realising that he actually is just the same as the lower classes but he has lived such a sheltered life so hasn’t realised it up until now whereas Mr and Mrs Birling take no responsibility for Eva’s death and continue to have nothing to do with it and don’t admit anything and don’t accept that everyone is equal like Sheila and Eric do. I think that even though Eric is a small character he has a big role to play in An Inspector Calls. He helps Priestley to achieve all the aims and is a good character to show how other character also function and react to each other in the play. I think that Eric is a vital part of the book and he holds the plot together.