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Eric is potentially one of the founders of the next generation; if Eva had lived he could well be a father. Despite his wild and reckless past, his childish actions and the fierce protectionism of his family, Eric emerges as penitent and ready to acknowledge the lesson that Inspector Goole delivers. It is important that he represents youth and the hope that the dramatic message can be learnt.
In the early part of the play he is drunk and insensible, mocking of the proceedings. He laughs aloud when the conversation turns to Gerald and his ‘work’. This indicates that he is aware of Gerald’s philandering, and probably views it this point as inconsequential as his own.
Eric is quite disturbed to discover that the visitor is an inspector. This foreshadows his revelation of his criminal activity in the theft he has perpetrated from his family in a feeble attempt to support Eva.
By the end of the play, Eric is clear on the message that the inspector has delivered, that
‘we are all responsible for each other’,
Eric can also see that its reality or source is unimportant.
‘It’s still the same rotten story whether it’s been told to a police inspector or somebody else…It’s what happened to the girl and what we all did to her that matters.’
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