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Eric And Shelia’s Relationship Analysis Essay

Eric’s attitude towards various characters changes over the course of the play. In the beginning, Eric and Shelia appear to have a fairly typical sibling relationship with Eric’s obvious drunkenness- ‘Eric suddenly guffaws’ obviously exasperating Shelia- ‘You’re squiffy’, who is excited because she is celebrating her engagement party. By the end of the play, Eric and Shelia appear to have improved their relationship with each other, as Eric starts to agree with Shelia ‘she’s right’, but lost a great deal of trust in their relationship with their parents.

Both Eric and Shelia agree with the Inspector that ‘we are all responsible for each other’. They both represent the socialist views typically held of the younger generation. This was hinted at earlier, by Eric and Shelia’s respective response to hearing about Mr Birling firing Eva, ‘You said yourself she was a good worker. I’d have let her stay’ and ‘I think it was a mean thing to do. Perhaps that spoilt everything for her. ’ Eric is also the only person in the room to react to finding out about the suicide, ‘(Involuntarily) My God! ’ and is the first person to show any empathy- ‘Can’t blame her [Eva]’.

Whereas, Mr Birling and Gerald agree with Mrs Birling who says ‘I though I had done no more than my duty’. They represent the capitalist views traditionally shared by the older generation that Priestly strongly disagreed with. By the end of the play Eric has the courage to disagree and argue with his father, which contrasts to the beginning of the play, where Eric and Shelia were being treated as if they were still children, and Eric was constantly being interrupted by his father- ‘Yes I know – but still-’ and told by his mother to ‘Just keep quiet’.

Eric seems desperate for his father’s approval, and for Mr Birling to show any sort of affection or love towards Eric, which Mr Birling is oblivious to ‘Because you’re not the kind of father a chap could go to when he’s in trouble’. However, by the end of the play, Eric does not appear to care what his father thinks of him, as when Mr Birling says to Eric ‘You’re the one I blame for this’, and Eric replies ‘I’ll bet I am… I don’t care now’. If Mr Birling had said that to Eric in the beginning of Act 1, Eric would have assumed that it is his fault, and would have begged for Mr Birling’s forgiveness.

Eric also now realises that his parents are not perfect- ‘I’m ashamed of you as well- yes both of you’. In addition, after Inspector Goole leaves the Birling’s, after his speech about capitalism and communism, one of the first things that Mr Birling says is that ‘There’ll be a public scandal… I was almost certain for a knighthood in the next Honours list’. This reveals how little Mr Birling learns or cares about what happened, and also how he is not in the slightest concerned about Eric’s welfare after he has heard such shocking news.

Mr Birling also tries to blame Eric by accusing Eric- ‘you’ve been spoilt’. In addition, Mr Birling takes no responsibility for Eric allegedly spoiling Eric, even though Mr Birling played a big part in helping to raise Eric. Even though Eric appears to be very jealous of Gerald and Mr Birling’s relationship, as they both stay in the dinning room while Eric, Shelia and Mrs Birling go into the drawing room. This shows how Eric is not yet considered a man, and still viewed as a child, which is why he goes with his mother and sister.

Mrs Birling is obvious a poor mother, and completely oblivious or in denial about Eric’s drinking problem- ‘you’re not the type, you don’t get drunk’, despite the fact that Eric is steadily drinking throughout the course of the play, and when she finds out about Eric’s involvement with Eva and how he stole money from his father, she tells him ‘I’m absolutely ashamed of you’. Eric is furious with his mother for unknowingly killing her grandchild and Eva, and he is ‘nearly at breaking point’ when he yells at his mother ‘damn you, damn you’.

Eric has a very interesting relationship with the Inspector, as he is one of the few characters for whom Eric’s level of respect does not increase or decrease throughout the play- he loses all respect for both his parents, whereas Shelia and Eric end up mutually respecting each other by the end of the play. Eric is also arguably the character who learns the most ‘It’s what happened to the girl and what we all did that matters’. • Eric and Eva meet in November 1911, ‘in the Palace Bar’. Eric admits that ‘I was a bit squiffy’. It is becomes very apparent early on in the play that Eric has a dependence on alcohol.

He ‘guffaws’ and accused by Shelia; ‘You’re squiffy’. His parents appear to be oblivious however, as his mother says ‘you’re not the type, you don’t get drunk’ and his father asks Eric ‘Want another glass of port? ’ even though Eric has been shown drinking constantly so far in the play. It is obvious to the audience that Eric has a serious problem, however his family and even Eric himself appear to be ignorant to his problem. Upon Inspector Goole telling him that he has to explain himself to his family, Eric says ‘Could I have a drink first? ’ The fact that he says this ‘miserably’ suggests that he is embarrassed about what he has done.

Priestly then goes on saying that Eric’s ‘whole manner of handling the decanter… shows his familiarity with quick heavy drinking’. Eric initially said that ‘[Eva] was pretty and a good sport’, as if they were children playing a game. Unlike every other character, who all made no contact with Eva after abandoning her, Eric tried his best to help her. After he found out that she was pregnant, he stole money from his father to try and support her, however Eva, who arguably has more morals than any other characters declined the money after she discovered that it was stolen

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