Eric Birling is the youngest child of Arthur and Sybil Birling in J.B. Priestly’s “An Inspector Calls.” He is aged around eighteen and is still thought of very much as a child. Sybil Birling is shocked when she discovers that he drinks. He is sullen and sulky, but does have a conscience, although not so much as Sheila. He is resentful of his father and many of his humanitarian words are not said because he cares, but because he knows it will wind up Arthur.
In the play Eric is the second last person to see Eva, he met her in the palace bar, and literally forced himself on her. He said afterwards that he “didn’t remember,” this was because he was drunk at the time. It happened a few more times until Eva revealed she was pregnant. She told him he was too young and she didn’t want to see him again, but he insisted on giving her money, in total around £50. Unfortunately he told her he had stolen it, he didn’t mean to, but again, he was drunk. He had in fact been stealing I from his father’s business. Eva refused to see him ever again.
Eric is at heart a good person, but he drinks too much and has many bottled up feelings. He feels he can’t talk to his father about anything, which is true, and this drove him to alcohol. At the end of the play he has changed almost as much as his sister.
In the short experimental piece, “Birling,” Eric owns his own business, it is not revealed what t is but we do know it was successful in spite of excellent working conditions. It seems that he has acted on his word, and not followed in his father’s footsteps.