One of my theories is that the Inspector is like Moses and the Birling family is like the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh in the Bible decides to free the slaves, but then doesn't go through with it so God punishes him. In the book Mr. and Mrs. Birling originally doesn't accept any blame for what they did to "Eva Smith" but then the Inspector changes their minds. But soon after the inspector was exposed as being "not a real inspector" they revert to their old mindset (except Eric and Sheila), just like the Pharaoh does.

I believe in the introduction of the play it briefly mentions the seven deadly sins. Below is who I believe represents each sin.

7 deadly sins and possible character representations:

  • Lust (Eric/Gerald)

  • Gluttony (Mr. Birling/Gerald/Mrs. Birling)

  • Greed (Birling/Gerald/Mrs. Birling)

  • Sloth (Eric? I don't fully understand the definition of sloth)

  • Wrath (Sheila)

  • Envy (Sheila)

  • Pride (Gerald/Mr. Birling/Mrs. Birling)

  • Are you asking for parallels you can draw (as the existing answers seem to assume), or about what the playwright intended?
    – gidds
    Commented Mar 27 at 8:58

3 Answers 3

  • Inspector - Pride - for his large ego and he thinks he can and should change peoples idea
  • Mr B - Gluttony - large size and is the embodiment of the rich and stingy
  • Sheila - Envy - Of the girl in the shops looks and being able to wear the dress so well
  • Gerald - Lust - for his affair with Eva
  • Mrs B - Sloth - Didn't do anything to help Eva even though she was capable of it
  • Eric - Greed - Stealing from his father
  • Eva - Wrath - Her anger with them and life in general is now affecting them
    • Or as an embodiment of the people and how they will rise and destroy the rich "in fire and blood and anguish" not referencing WW2 but revolution

I'd argue this instead;

  • Eric: gluttony (due to his over-indulgence with alcohol)
  • Sheila: envy (she was envious of Eva's looks)
  • Mrs Birling: pride (she looks down upon Eva and other working class people)
  • Arthur: greed (he fires Eva because she wanted more money "lower costs higher prices")
  • Gerald: lust (due to his affair)

Sheila = envy - jealous of Eva's looks
Eric = gluttony - overindulgence in alcohol ("squiffy")
Mr B = greed - capitalist, sacks Eva for asking for a pay rise
Mrs B = pride - refuses to help Eva after using the Birlings name, disregards the lower class as she thinks she is better than them ("girls of that class")
Gerald = lust - adultery with Eva

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