Mr Birling

Mind Map by , created over 5 years ago

English Literature (An Inspector Calls) Mind Map on Mr Birling, created by KittyG-S on 04/13/2014.

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Created by KittyG-S over 5 years ago
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Mr Birling
1 Hypocritical
1.1 Believes commitment to the community to be nonsense, but is happy to accept the community's rewards of becoming a Lord Mayor or getting a knighthood
1.2 Fired Eva for the same reasons he was willing to promote her for: leadership qualities
1.3 Doesn't care about Eva's death, sees her as "cheap labour" so fired her and expected her to "go on the streets", even though she is similar to Sheila. He doesn't see the resemblance between Eva and Sheila because he believes people of separate classes are completely different; lower class girls were seen as the lowest of the low, i.e prostitutes, whereas he believes upper class girls are better educated and have better qualities and manners, even though Sheila can be petty, jealous and spiteful, and Eva seems to be the kinder, nicer girl of the two.
1.4 Is well acquainted with policemen, suggesting he bribes them and gives backhanders if he is involved in scandals so his record is clear and looks good in front of others. Once again, he feels he can buy or bully himself out of another scandal through the Inspector, but has met his match.
1.5 His knighthood is to show Lady Croft and others how upper class he is and improve his social status, not because he has helped the community, who he says he doesn't care for
2 Socially conscious
2.1 Only interested in covering up this scandal, doesn't care about Eva's death
2.2 Wants to disassociate himself from Eva, doesn't feel guilt or remorse, feels in the clear and relief when the Inspector is discovered to be a fake
2.3 Sees his family as another way of increasing his business interests i.e by getting Sheila and Gerald to marry so his business rival can be a colleague


  • "I speak as a hard-headed, practical man of business."
2.4 They live in wealthy luxury, with port and champagne, and take it for granted, but the hard furniture indicates it lacks a warm, family homeliness
2.5 Loves the sound of his own voice; makes speeches all the time, thinks this makes him look superior to those listening
2.6 Has worked his way up the social ladder, comes from a lower class to Mrs B, who married beneath herself, but is keen to exert his power as a member of the upper class by trying to intimidate the Inspector, who is from a lower class to him, so he believes he should be more obedient/ respectful to him.
2.7 Sees the Inspector only as a public servant who will overlook any offences since Birling is superior in class to him
2.8 Afraid of what the girl's death will do to his reputation/ social status, not remorseful for her death, which is why he says he would give thousands of pounds to help her now. This shows he has lots of wealth and social power, and is used to throwing them around to get his way, but he has no sense of social justice, and doesn't feel that he is responsible or should be guilty.
2.8.1 He wouldn't give her an extra two shillings and sixpence but now offers thousands because of the threat of scandal and wants to bribe his way out
3 Capitalist: against the Inspector/ Priestley


3.1 Priestley makes him look like a fool in front of the audience - e.g when he talks about wars and the Titanic - so the audience distance themselves from him and judge him, then question if this is what they believe, and judge themselves.


  • "The Titanic - unsinkable, absolutely unsinkable." "In [a few] years' time, let's say in 1940, all this talk of war will be over."
3.2 Priestley promoted socialist, left-wing views, so wanted to discredit this capitalist lifestyle and make it look undesirable to the audience
3.3 He talks a lot about business, wealth and social standing; these are what are important to him, and are quite individual, selfish morals


  • "A man has to look after himself and his own." (Birling)
3.4 During his capitalist speech, the Inspector is summoned to teach him a lesson and show them the alternative, preferred way of living.
3.5 Birling believes his social standing entitles him to different treatment; he tries to intimidate the Inspector by saying he was a magistrate and still has power on the bench,so he has a reputation and powerful friends, so could get the Inspector taken to court, but the Inspector is having none of it, and won't be intimidated by him. He conflicts with Birling a lot during the evening.
3.5.1 He feels no respect towards Birling, but instead starts to lose patience with him.
3.6 Represents what the socialist Priestley believed was wrong with society

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