An Inspector Calls

by: J. B. Priestley

Eric Birling

Eric’s position is similar to his sister’s, in that he, too, is wracked by guilt after learning of the Eva/Daisy’s suicide. But Eric’s addiction to alcohol and his moodier, wilder temperament keep him from reasoning as succinctly as Sheila does at the play’s end. Eric believes that he behaved justifiably in stealing from the family business to help Eva/Daisy. And, when he learns that his mother refused Eva/Daisy from her charity despite being pregnant, he is aghast at his family’s lack of sympathy.

Different characters interpret Eric’s alcoholism in different ways. Arthur sees it as a sign of weakness, an indication that Eric is lazy and was spoiled as a child. Sybil refuses to acknowledge that Eric has a drinking problem, despite Sheila’s protestations. And Gerald, though he wants to believe that Eric’s drinking is “normal” for a young man, admits that very few young men drink the way Eric does.