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How Does the Character of Mr. Birling Reflect British Society in 1912?

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How does the character of Mr. Birling reflect British society in 1912?

The character of Mr. Birling is very important in 'An inspector calls' because he reflects how many upper class people (especially men) treated others in different classes. His character is vital to get across Priestley's socialist ideologies. Firstly, Mr. Birling exclaims how he is not "a purple-faced old man.", this suggests that most men of authority were greedy, only cared for themselves and had a lot of money to waste on things like excessive food. Secondly, we can see that Sheila and Gerald's engagement "means a tremendous lot to [Birling].", this is very similar to the society at that time as many people used others for their own personal gain. The engagement will help the Birling's business by raising their social class. Next, during this time period sexism towards woman was just every day life. Mr. Birling asks "Are you listening Sheila?", this reflects sexism within society as most men felt women weren't as intelligent as them so had to be spoken to in a simpler manner. Birling thinks it's "a very good time," for the engagement. This is an excellent example of dramatic irony as in 2 years time World War one was to begin. In 1912 people with authority were blind to the devastation that was to come, as was Mr. Birling. The character of Mr. Birling is an excellent illustration of ignorant upper class citizens in 1912. "We've past the worst of it." highlights that most people were obtuse to what the future has in store for them e.g. WW1, WW2, Titanic etc. Similarly, many people in power were in denial over war (WW1), they did not want it to happen as they would lose so much, especially business so they believed war wouldn't happen. This influences Mr. Birling which is seen when he says "The Germans don’t want war.". Furthermore, countless people at the…...

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