Men were regarded as being the head of the household. They were able to make decisions on behalf of the women, as they had no rights.

__Stage Direction: __‘Arthur Birling at one end, his wife at the other’

__Gerald: __‘I insist upon being one of the family now. I’ve been trying long enough’ (Act One)

__Mrs Birling: __‘When you are married you’ll realise that men… spend nearly all of their time and energy on their business.

__Birling: ‘__It’s one of the happiest nights of my life.’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘your engagement to Sheila means a tremendous lot to me.’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘Lady Croft… feels you might have done better for yourself socially’ (Act One)

__Gerald: __‘You seem to be a nice well-behaved family’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘there isn’t the slightest reason why my daughter should be dragged into this unpleasant business.’

__Mrs Birling: __‘I’m sorry, Arthur, but I simply couldn’t stay in there. I had to know what’s happening.’ (Act Two)

__Eric: __‘you’re not the kind of father a chap could go to when he’s in trouble’ (Act Three)

__Birling: __‘Your trouble is – you’ve been spoilt-’ (Act Three)


Relationships were commonly formed to enhance social standing. Some did break the conventions and marry out of their class if they really loved the potential spouse. However, this was often frowned upon. Women were usually objectified and lower-class women were easy to use, abuse and discard.

__Stage Direction: __‘very pleased with life and rather excited’

__Stage Direction: __‘(half serious, half playful)’ (Act One)

__Gerald: __‘hope I can make you as happy as you deserve to be’ (Act One)

__Sheila: __‘is it the one you wanted me to have… isn’t it a beauty’ (Act One)

Gerald: ‘I was sorry for her’ (Act Two)

__Gerald: __‘I didn’t feel about her as she felt about me.’ (Act Two)

__Eric: __‘I wasn’t in love with her or anything – but I liked her’ (Act Three)

__Eric: __‘She didn’t want me to marry her. Said I didn’t love her’ (Act Three)

How do the parents feel about the engagement?
Your answer should include: Happy / Excited
Although they had a relationship with the victim, who did not love her?
Your answer should include: Gerald / Eric


During the Georgian era, the majority of people wanted to climb the social ladder. The lower-class people were desperate to improve their living situation from that of an arduous life. The middle classes had to work extremely hard to maintain their standard of living. They constantly pushed to increase their wealth and social standing in society. The Aristocracy were considered the most comfortable class in the ladder of hierarchy, being just below the monarchs.

__Birling: __‘now you’ve brought us together… time when Crofts and Birlings are… working together’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘I’m talking as a heard-headed practical man of business’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘a man has to mind his own business and look after himself and his own’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘It’s my duty to keep labour costs down.’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘If you don’t come down sharply on some of these people, they soon be asking for the earth.’ (Act One)

__Birling: __‘brighten your ideas, you’ll never be in a position to let anybody stay or tell anybody to go.’ (Act One)

Lies & Deceit

Many people are deceitful so that they can climb the social ladder ahead of others.

__Sheila: __‘all last summer, when you never came near me’ (Act One)

__Gerald: __‘I’ve told you – I was awfully busy at the works all that time.’ (Act One)

__Gerald: __‘I’m sorry, Sheila. But it was all over and done with, last summer.’ (Act Two)

__Sheila: __‘I knew you were lying about those months last year when you hardly came near me’

__Sheila: __‘now at least you’ve been honest. And I believe what you told us’ (Act Two)

__Mrs Birling: __‘The girl had begun by telling us a pack of lies.’ (Act Two)

__Eric: __‘I insisted on giving her enough money… until she refused’ (Act Three)

__Birling: __‘this is bound to come out. There’ll be a public scandal.’ (Act Three)

__Gerald: __‘they hadn’t any inspector at all like the chap who came here’ (Act Three)

__Birling: __‘By jingo! A Fake!’ (Act Three)

Which character(s) were the most deceitful in the play?
Your answer should include: Gerald / Eric