This play was written in 1946, but it was set in 1912. This was a time when
-The Titanic sank
-Women were put in a position that they didn’t want to be in (equal rights)
-The people that were poor were put in the lower deck of the ship
-All of the rich people were treated like snobs
The play begins with Mr Birling asking Edna, the house maid, for the port because Sheila Birling is getting engaged with Gerald Croft and all of the family are celebrating it. (p.2)
Mr Birling is the head of the Birling household and always sits at the head of the table. Mr Birling loves talking and never stops. He gives very long, boring and tiring speeches and there all a load of rubbish. Two of his longest speeches are about the titanic and wars in the world. When he talks about the titanic he says that a luxurious 40 ton ship couldn’t sink but it did.
He is described in the play as a heavy-looking man, with a rather boastful manner in his middle fifties. He is dedicated to his business, which is involved in producing furniture, and it is necessary that he enjoys the engagement of his daughter and Gerald Croft because it is good for his business.
So basically he is a selfish capitalist who cares more about money than his own family, even after finding out about Gerald’s affair with Eva he still encourages Sheila to stay with him because Gerald’s family business is merging with the Birling business.
He tries to force the blame on other family members as soon as it is suggested that Inspector Goole may not be a real Inspector, despite still being under the impression that a girl has died as a consequence of his actions.
Then there is a ring of the front doorbell (p.10) and Edna answers it, it is Inspector Poole. At the moment the doorbell rings Mr Birling is talking about how he thinks everybody has to look after everybody else and its as if were all mixed up together like bees in a hive-community and all that nonsense. And he was telling Eric and Gerald how he’s learnt in the good hard school of experience that a man has to mind his own business and look after themselves and how you youngsters should take his word for it.
When the Inspector walks in the room there is a change in the mood and the stage directions say that the lighting changes, going from pinky to very bright. Mr Birling is the head of the household and always takes charge but when the Inspector walks in the room he becomes a jibbering wreck.
The Inspector manages to do this by being calm and only talking to one person at a time. The Inspector used to be a chief police officer but Mr Birling doesn’t remember him or know anything about him so he finds that quite strange and when round him is quite weary and listens carefully to what he says. This makes him very flustered indeed.