Gerald Croft character analysis.

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    • Role in the play
      • Although he is one of the younger generations, he still represents the selfishness of the upper class.
      • Unlike,Shelia and Eric, Gerald represents the people who will be left in charge if people don't take more responsibility for their actions.
    • Link to the Birlings:
      • At the start of the play, Gerald is engaged to Sheila Birling.
      • Gerald is from an upper-class family who doesn't approve of him marrying Sheila(who is upper-middle-class).
      • They decline the invitation to his engagement dinner with the Birlings(Lord and Lady Croft).
      • Gerald's family's business will also use the marriage to link Birling's company with Croft Limited.
      • At the start of the play, Gerald is engaged to Sheila despite his parents disapproving of his match. He represents the selfish upper class.
    • Significance of Gerald:
      • Gerald represents the selfish and stubborn attitudes of the upper classes. Priestley uses Gerald as a warning to society.
      • Selfishness and oppressive upper class:
        • Priestley suggests that upper-class men only want to protect themselves.
          • He suggests that they may pretend to offer support and encouragement to lower-class people, but ultimately will do things to benefit themselves.
        • Gerald represents oppression( cruel treatment) from the upper-class individuals who can jump through loopholes to avoid any sort of social responsibility.
      • Warning for society:
        • Like the older Birlings, Gerald acts as a warning from Priestley about what could happen if men like Gerald dictate the future society.
    • Stubbornness:
      • He also shows that it was incredibly difficult to change upper-class attitudes, as they were embedded into society.
    • Character development:
      • Remorseless:
        • When he is confronted about his relationship with Eva/Daisy, he pretends not to know her-he knows that his actions were wrong, and that his affair would hurt both Eva and Sheila. So he tries to cover it up.
        • In Act 3, Gerald returns to the home to tell the family that Inspector Goole was not a real police inspector. Like Mr and Mrs Birling, he doesn't think he needs to feel any remorse if Goole was not a real police officer. This is because his reputation can't be hurt.
      • Innate social prejudice:
        • Overall, the audience expects Gerald to change his attitudes, like Sheila and Eric, but lets the audience down.
        • His upper-class background means his social prejudice and lack of social responsibility are innate(natural to him)-Priestley uses Gerald to show his difficult it was to change these attitudes.
      • Doesn't change:
        • By the end of the play, Gerald has also not changed at all. He works hard to prove the Inspector was a fake.
        • He concludes that they can dismiss the whole evening(he does not learn anything, which is why Sheila is unsure about taking the ring back).
          • Is this why they get a second visit from a real police officer? Does Inspector Goole act as a warning, which they do not take?
      • Beginning:
        • At the start of the play, we see him acting very much like Mr Birling. They sit together and chat about business and about how people should only be responsible for themselves and their families.
      • Gerald is obsessed with reputation and does not show remorse.
      • Social status:
        • Gerald's family background seems to make him more socially powerful than Mr Birling because Mr Birling is keen to impress Gerald.
      • Concerned with his reputation:
        • Gerald understands how important the Birlings' reputations are to them. He tells Mr Birling that the could never imagine a family like their being involved in any sort of scandal.
        • Gerald seems to put a lot of effort into protecting his own reputation, status and interests.
          • For example, pretending not to know Eva/Daisy as he knows his affair would soil his reputation.
        • This is the opposite of Sheila, who uses the opportunity to learn from er mistakes and change herself.


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