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Characters In J.B. Priestley's A View From The Bridge

2120 words - 8 pages

Characters in J.B. Priestley's A View From the Bridge

The two characters I have chosen to write about are Mr Birling and
Sheila. I chose these two because Mr Birling and Sheila have very

Characteristics. Sheila, being a much younger character, is quite
impressionable, whereas Mr Birling is not. Sheila's attitude and views
change as the story goes on, whereas Mr Birling refuses to change
altogether. Their characteristics are shown in their reactions to Eva
Smiths death, and to each other.

Mr Birling is the father of Sheila and Eric Birling and considers
himself to have a very high status in society. He is a prosperous
factory owner, a local magistrate and ex-lord mayor of Brumley. He
regards himself as being reasonable, but his first priority is to make
money "It is my duty to keep labour costs down" and therefore pays his
employees no more than the going rate. However as the play continues
further, we are shown how Sheila sees her father being exposed as a
"hard headed business man" and as an insensitive character.

The audience in 1946 were of the post war society. They would of seen
Mr Birling as their past and mistakes. Mr Birling is optimistic of the
future, yet in his speech about the titanic being unsinkable and that
there is no chance of war, the audience already know that the titanic
is not unsinkable and that there will be two world wars as they have
already experienced both tragedies.

When the inspector arrives, the reaction of Mr Birling initially
displays changes within a few moments. At first, he and Gerald joke
about the reasons for the inspector's visit, a Mr Birling probably
feels that he has nothing to fear because of his high status and
contacts. However, after the inspector reveals how Eva Smith died, and
how this was in someway connected to Mr Birling, Mr Birling refuses to
accept his responsibility and thinks that he has an honest approach to
life. He tries to justify his actions by telling the inspector about
his refusal to listen to Eva's request for a wage rise. "Refused of
course" and seems genuinely surprised when the inspector questions his
actions, "what did you just say?" Mr Birling seems offended by the
inspector's questioning, and also a little bemused at the inspector's
tone of voice. Here he shows how he thinks very few people are at his
business level and so very few can understand his actions towards Eva.
Mr Birling mentions that he is a friend of the inspector's chief
constable, to almost threaten the inspector, although the inspector
seems to ignore this fact. When the inspector begins to question Mr
Birling, Mr Birling's attitude quickly changes. He becomes impatient,
impatient with the inspector's subsequent questioning and so again he
reminds the inspector of his position in society.

The audience are made aware of the...

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