The Berling Family Tension Analysis

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How does Priestley show the tension at the heart of the Berling Family?-Rafael Coseteng
In Act 1 Priestley showed the tension between the members of the Berling family through their interactions with one another. It was also displayed from the unusual way they act as a family, especially when inspector Goole arrives.
Arthur Berling treats his son with very little respect, often mocking him or telling him to shut up before he can finish his sentence. When Eric is just asking an innocent question to the inspector, his father attacks him. “Just keep quiet, Eric, and don’t get excited”. This clarifies how harsh a father Arthur is to Eric and how strained the relationship between both of them is. Instead of politely asking Eric to stay silent, he just shut him out completely with a “Just keep quiet”.
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Sheila was just admiring the ring that Gerald gave her, however Arthur saw this as an act of disrespect. “Are you listening Sheila? This concerns you too.” This describes how Arthur wanted to seem like a dominant man, commanding respect of everyone in the room. This was Arthur’s attempt to show Gerald how supreme he was amongst his own family. Gerald jeered at Eric about how the police inspector may want something from Eric, and instead of Arthur defending his son, he sided with Gerald instead. As after Gerald made the joke, Arthur only responded with a mere “Very” instead of leaping to his own son’s defense. Arthur humiliated his own son in front of the inspector and Gerald only because Eric was fighting for the rights of underpaid women like Eva Smith. “That’s something this public school and varsity life you’ve had doesn’t seem to teach you”. Arthur wanted to prove a point to the inspector, Gerald and Eric how smarter he was compared to Eric, by stating how Eric went to public school. This shows how little respect Arthur has for his son as he willingly shamed Eric just to fuel his own

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