How far is Eric Birling to blame for Eva/Daisy's death in An Inspector Calls?

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kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eric Birling has many faults. He steals money from his father, is a drunkard and a philanderer. However, of all of the party guests that night, he is probably the least responsible for the death of Eva Smith/ Daisy Renton. It is when he finds out that the young lady he has been seeing is pregnant he at least tries to make a gesture to help – however feeble and inadequate. Mr and Mrs Birling hold the father of the girl’s child responsible until they learn he is their son. Eva/Daisy had refused his help as she suspected that he was stealing the money he was giving to her to support her.

Eric is different from the others in that he did attempt to make Eva/Daisy’s plight a little better. He is repentant of what happened to the girl and clearly learns a lesson from the incident –

‘It’s what happened to the girl and what we all did to her that matters.’

the-judge | Student

Eric Birling was as much to blame as the rest of the family. Although he and his mother caused the final blow to Eva smith, Eric is not portrayed in the play as a dislikeable character, Eric is a foolish young man and is possibly portrayed to be mothered too much. The audience wouldn't hold as much blame on Eric and Sheila rather than Mr and Mrs Birling mainly because the parents are portrayed as stubborn and feel they hold no responsibility towards Eva's death.  So to answer your question it depends on if it's the audiences view or if it's Priestly's portrayal. Priestly would have wanted his audience to realise Eric's wrong doing but also feel slightly sorry for him as he accepted his blame. This applies to what most people would feel towards him. It all boils down to Priestly's message of responsibility and community.  Priestly's view was that people were all linked and we should all hold some responsibility for looking after one another. So in fairness if Birling wasn't to have turned her out of her job Eric may have never met her. To sum it up, Eric was as much to blame as everyone else, and no one was to be blamed more than the next person.

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An Inspector Calls

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