In Act 1 of An Inspector Calls, we find out that Mr Birling is self-righteous because he believes that his opinion is always right and no-one else’s opinion matters. This is evident in the quote, “you’ll hear some people say that war’s inevitable. And to that I say-fiddlesticks!” This shows that he completely disagrees about the idea of war and that it would never happen. The fact that he says “that” suggests that he doesn’t even care about other people’s opinions and knows that they won’t be right. He doesn’t even take into account that war is one the very verge of starting. He believes that there is no possibility of war starting but we know that he is later proved wrong when the war actually happens. Therefore we dislike his character from the start as he thinks he knows it all but actually doesn’t. Another quote that represents this idea is, “the titanic … and unsinkable.” He feels that the titanic won’t sink and there is no possibility for it to happen. Priestly is trying to say that we shouldn’t like these people as they only care about themselves and no-one else. Priestly is showing that because they are rich they think that they know it all but in fact without the working class people they wouldn’t be as rich as they are now.
We also get the message that he cares more about his money than his daughter. This possibly is the most significant idea as he believes that appearance is everything not happiness. He knows that money is everything to him and nothing else is important. This is represented in the following quote, “perhaps we may look forward to the time when Crofts and Birlings are no longer competing but are working together.” The family are celebrating Sheila’s engagement with Gerald but instead of congratulating them about it he is talking about business. Mr Birling thinks that if his daughter gets engaged then he will gain the most financial benefit as he will be on a higher standard than before with the help of the Crofts. He thinks with their help he won’t need to work as much. The word “together” implies that he is indicating this to Gerald and wants this to happen as quickly as possible. It also shows that he wants Gerald to talk about this to his parents rapidly so that his status in the public will shine.
From the play we can tell that Mr Birling prefers Gerald more than Eric. This is reflected in the quote, “You’re just the king of son-in-law I always wanted.” This suggests that Eric cannot live up to the expectations of Gerald. He thinks that Gerald is stronger than Eric as he has more money. He believes that a person’s quality is seen by how much money they have. Also, we know that Arthur doesn’t speak much with Eric as otherwise he would have known that Eric was an alcoholic. This means that Arthur isn’t a good parent and he may believe that his children can do whatever they want but will never be the best as they don’t earn by themselves. However, it could also imply that Mr Birling is jealous of Gerald; he knows that his son isn’t like him and therefore he neglects him. Consequently, Priestly may try to show that capitalists don’t care about anyone apart from themselves, not ever their family.
In addition, from the play we