The play ‘An Inspector Calls’ was written in 1945 just after the second world war by J. B Priestley, the play was set in 1912 before the war. He did this to show his negative views on Capitalist beliefs; he believed in looking out for the community and his social views to stop wars from occurring. The play is based in an Industrial city in the North Midlands. The main character is Birling who is a wealthy factory owner.
His character is an extreme capitalist only believing in looking out for himself. In the stage directions you can pick up a lot of what Birling’s character is like ‘A few imposing but tasteless pictures on the walls’ this shows that they are wealthy but will spend there money on showing off their wealth instead of making their house seem lived in. It also describes Birling as “Arthur Birling is ‘rather portentous” giving us a n insight into how his character will be portrayed in the play to come.
We get a very strong image that backs up our view on Birling being a Capitalist after his speech, ‘A man has to make his own way in life’ Birling is saying he made his own way and is setting an example for everyone else to do the same, and every thing will turn out fine for them. His wife was born into wealth and had an easy life and never had to get help off others because of her wealth.
In the stage directions in says he is a ‘prosperous manufacturer’ this instantly considering these times gives us the initially stereotypical view of what kind of person Birling is. Birling would be considered to have a lot of self importance, only looking out for himself and his family. You can get this idea of self importance from where he thinks he should make a speech based on the notion that as head of the family they think that he should make a speech, when, in fact no one but him really thinks it is necessary due to the small size of the party.
Birling may seem to be old fashioned in comparison to the young Gerald because when he offers him a cigar he refuses it for a more modern cigarette saying ‘can’t really enjoy them’, This shows that he wants to stick with his more affluent life style with the more expensive cigars. Throughout the play Birling comes across as a very arrogant person and a social climber by the showing off of material wealth. He introduces his prospective son in law to the Inspector as “Mr Gerald Croft – the son of Sir George Croft – you know, Crofts Limited” endorsing the fact that he mixes in high social circles.