Sybil Birling is the wife of Arthur Birling in J. B. Priestly’s An Inspector Calls. She is a woman in her late forties or early fifties and is very stuck up. Technically a housewife she spends all her time going to social gatherings, trying to pretend she’s aristocratic, and spending time working for the Brumly Women’s Charity organisation, which she does for the social status, not because of any genuine concern. She is very petty and refused Eva Smith financial help on the grounds that she (Eva) had claimed to be Mrs Birling, since that was Eric’s surname.
She considers herself to be above everyone else, she claims she was the only one who didn’t give in to the inspector. In fact she did, but for selfish reasons since she only did when it was revealed that Eric was the man who had treated her badly. More evidence of this is found in the fact that before minding out it was Eric, she had demanded a public confession, afterwards she wanted to hush everything up.
She enjoys gossip and scandal, but only when they happen to other people, she is fascinated by the fact that one of the town’s aldermen is a drunk and a womaniser. However when it comes to her own family she is very naïve, not even knowing about Eric’s drinking habits, which even Gerald knew about.
At the end of the play she has not reformed and now believes that what the Inspector said didn’t matter.