An Inspector Calls Gerald Essay

Question 1

How does Priestley present the character of Gerald Croft?

Answer

  • The fiancé of Sheila Birling.
  • The audience may initially consider Gerald to be a dandy but in the stage directions Priestley specifically states that is not the case, that he ‘is rather too manly to be a dandy but very much the easy well-bred young man-about-town’.
  • He is not a character the audience will necessarily sympathise with. He has had a privileged upbringing being the son of wealthy businessman Sir George, and his wife Lady Croft.
  • He takes his social status for granted and can be seen as arrogant and aloof.
  • He appears pleased with himself and relaxed; the opposite of Eric.
  • He appears more stereotypically ‘manly’ than Eric as he is presented as strong, confident and unlike Eric, he can take his drink.
  • The audience perhaps feels Mr Birling would rather have someone like Gerald as his son than the child like Eric.
  • Gerald can be seen as somewhat of a hypocrite when it is revealed he visits prostitutes and does not give Sheila the attention she desires but at the beginning of the twentieth century it was not uncommon for men of Gerald’s class and status to have a ‘mistress’ and that could be the reason the family, with the exception of Sheila, takes the news of Gerald’s affair reasonably well.
  • Gerald is presented as somewhat of a sympathetic character when it is revealed he was discreet in the affair, did not impregnate her and started the relationship out of a genuine desire to help her. Indeed, the Inspector states that ‘he at least had some affection for her and made her happy for a time’.
  • However, his rather callous ending of the affair on his terms, reminds the audience that he should not be seen as too sympathetic a character.

Question 2

What has Gerald learned by the end of the play?

Answer

  • Gerald is absent for a large proportion of Act 3 and it is difficult to measure how much the evening’s events affected him.
  • At the end of the play, he represents the voice of reason as he deduces the ‘crime’ never actually took place, thus suggesting he is intelligent and rational. 

Gerald Croft: Quotes & Revision Notes

Topics covered on this page (Gerald Croft):
Gerald Croft's Character
Priestley's Message (intended effect on the audience)
Gerald's Character Development/changes
Gerald Croft's Key Quotes
Gerald Croft works at his father's company, Crofts Limited, which is both bigger and older than Birling & Co. He is engaged to be married to Sheila Birling. His parents, Sir George and Lady Croft, are above the Birlings (Mr Birling and Mrs Birling) socially, and it seems his mother disapproves of his engagement to Sheila. J. B. Priestly describes Gerald as "an attractive chap about thirty ... very much the easy well-bred young-man-about-town." He is one of the characters to be questioned by Inspector Goole. 


Priestley's Message (intended effect on the audience)

  • He represents the selfish attitudes of the upper class.
  • He played a key part in the ‘chain of events’, contributing to the death of Eva Smith.
  • He lets the audience down; we had hope that he would change his attitudes, but he doesn’t. It conveys how ingrained these attitudes were in the upper class, and how difficult it was to change them.

Gerald's Character Development/changes 

  • He played a key part in the ‘chain of events’, contributing to the death of Eva Smith.
  • He doesn't change his attitudes, conveying how ingrained these attitudes were in the upper class, and how difficult it was to change them.


Gerald Croft's Key Quotes

  • At the start of the play, he cannot see how he could be involved in Eva Smith’s (Daisy Renton’s) suicide. ‘I don’t come into this suicide business.’
  • He tries to hide the truth from the Inspector (that he had been involved with Eva/Daisy) from the start, (‘we can keep it from him’) but Sheila criticises this. She noticed how he reacted when he heard the name ‘Daisy Renton’.
  • Gerald met Daisy Renton in the Palace Bar. He rescued her from Aldermand Meggarty and felt sorry for her. He kept her as his mistress for a few months but it eventually came to an end. He was aware that Daisy Renton’s feelings towards him were stronger than his were towards her.
  • When he starts to talk about her death, he appears genuinely upset and goes out for a walk: ‘I’m rather more – upset – by this business than I probably appear to be – ‘. The audience assume that he has learned his lesson and that perhaps he will change for the better. After all, he had initially acted out of kindness, which suggests that he is not a completely bad character; however, he gave in to lust and cheated on Sheila, dropping Daisy Renton when it suited him so he is far from faultless.
  • The Inspector isn’t as harsh on him as he is on Mr and Mrs Birling – he notes that at least Gerald ‘had some affection for her and made her happy for a time.’
  • When he returns, he has news: the Inspector was an impostor. He returns to the way he was before; the fact that he still did what he did does not make him change like Sheila and Eric. When offering Sheila the ring back, she can’t take it. ‘Everything’s all right now Sheila. (Holds up the ring.) What about this ring?’ She replies, ‘It’s too soon. I must think.’ She needs him to change his attitude and take responsibility for his actions. He forgets how poorly he treated Sheila and Daisy/Eva.

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