Mr. Birling is the head of the family. We have a description of him before any word is spoken at the beginning of the play. He is Heavy-looking, portentous, in his mid-fifties and rather provincial in his speech and his wife is his social superior. We can see from the fourth point in that description that he is a social climber. We can see more evidence of this in that fact that he is so worried about social status in this first act, and in his distain for Eric's schooling. He mentions to Gerald how he can see that Lady Croft thinks he can do better, and is anxious to impress with the mention of a knighthood. He also seems to be trying to show himself as upper class in the ...view middle of the document...
"” Already, she is starting to change.
She is horrified by her own part in Eva's story. She feels full of guilt for her jealous actions and blames herself as “"really responsible."”
At the end of the play, Sheila is much wiser. She can now judge her parents and Gerald from a new perspective, but the greatest change has been in herself: her social conscience has been awakened and she is aware of her responsibilities.
She is a snob, very aware of the differences between social classes. She is irritated when Mr. Birling makes the social gaffe of praising the cook in front of Gerald and later is very dismissive of Eva, saying “"Girls of that class."”
She has the least respect for the Inspector of all the characters. She tries - unsuccessfully - to intimidate him and force him to leave, then lies to him when she claims that she does not recognize the photograph that he shows her.
She sees Sheila and Eric still as “"children"” and speaks patronizingly to them.
Like a lot of elderly women, she attempts to deny things like Eric’s drinking problem and other things like that.
He is an aristocrat - the son of Lord and Lady Croft. We realize that they are not over-impressed by Gerald's engagement to Sheila because they declined the invitation to the dinner.
He is not as willing as Sheila to admit his part in the girl's death to the Inspector and initially pretends that he never knew her. Is he a bit like Mr. Birling, wanting to protect his own interests?
He did have some genuine feeling for Daisy Renton, however: he is very moved when he hears of her death. He tells Inspector Goole that he arranged for her to live in his friend's flat “"because I was sorry for her;"” she became his mistress because...