Gerald Croft

A photo of Gerald Croft
Gerald Croft is from an upper class family

Gerald is described as 'an attractive chap about thirty, rather too manly to be a dandy but very much the easy well-bred young man-about-town'. Mr Birling is very pleased that Gerald is getting engaged to Sheila because his family are upper-class business owners, Mr Birling hopes they can join forces in business.

At the beginning of the play, Gerald comes across as being confident and charming. This changes after his affair with Eva Smith is revealed. Gerald gives himself away when he hears that Eva changed her name to Daisy Renton. He initially is evasive and tries not to talk too much about it but redeems himself in the eyes of the audience by being more open and honest about it as he talks to Sheila. He lets himself down in the final act by trying to get the family out of trouble, he doesn't seem to have learned from his mistakes.

How is Gerald Croft like this?EvidenceAnalysis
ConfidentAt the start of the play he seems very comfortable - making himself at home and behaving like a member of the Birling family he even makes fun of Eric."Sure to be, unless Eric’s been up to something."Mr Birling suggests that he is in line for a knighthood so long as the family have behaved themselves. Gerald confidently makes a joke at Eric's expense which is full of irony.
EvasiveAt first, when the truth comes out about his affair with Eva Smith he tries to avoid the subject."All right. I knew her. Let’s leave it at that."This abrupt line of dialogue shows how initially Gerald is very evasive about his involvement with Eva Smith and wants to close down the topic as soon as possible.
HonestEventually Gerald gains some respect from Sheila and the audience for being honest about his affair. "The girl saw me looking at her and then gave me a glance that was nothing less than a cry for help."Gerald honestly tells the story of how he met Eva. He was in the wrong to have an affair and then abandon Eva but, his use of emotive language 'cry for help' makes us realise that he genuinely felt sorry for her and wanted to help her.

Social and historical context

Priestley uses Gerald to attack the upper-classes of post-war Britain. He shows that despite outward appearances, Gerald is described as an 'attractive chap' and 'well-bred'. This class of people were still capable of questionable behaviour. Gerald has an affair and initially tries to avoid telling the truth. Priestley also suggests that they saw themselves above the problems of the working-classes - Gerald tries to get himself and the Birlings out of trouble.

Analysing the evidence

quote
( steadily ) I discovered, not that night but two nights later, when we met again – not accidentally this time of course - that in fact she hadn't a penny and was going to be turned out of the miserable back room she had. It happened that a friend of mine, Charlie Brunswick, had gone off to Canada for six months and had let me have the key of a nice little set of rooms he had – in Morgan Terrace – and had asked me to keep an eye on them for him and use them if I wanted to. So I insisted on Daisy moving into those rooms and I made her take some money to keep her going there. (Carefully, to the Inspector.) I want you to understand that I didn't install her there so that I could make love to her. I made her go to Morgan Terrace because I was sorry for her, and didn't like the idea of her going back to the Palace bar. I didn't ask for anything in return.Gerald Croft
Question

How does Gerald redeem himself in the eyes of the audience in Act 2?

How to analyse the quotation:

"(steadily) I discovered, not that night but two nights later, when we met again - not accidentally this time of course - that in fact she hadn't a penny and was going to be turned out of the miserable back room she had. It happened that a friend of mine, Charlie Brunswick, had gone off to Canada for six months and had let me have the key of a nice little set of rooms he had - in Morgan Terrace - and had asked me to keep an eye on them for him and use them if I wanted to. So I insisted on Daisy moving into those rooms and I made her take some money to keep her going there. (Carefully, to the Inspector.) I want you to understand that I didn't install her there so that I could make love to her. I made her go to Morgan Terrace because I was sorry for her, and didn't like the idea of her going back to the Palace bar. I didn't ask for anything in return."

  • "when we met again – not accidentally this time of course" - he is honest about his affair with Eva Smith.
  • "I made her take some money to keep her going there" - he tries to look after her.
  • "I made her go to Morgan Terrace because I was sorry for her" - he is honest about his feelings.
  • "I didn't ask for anything in return" - he argues that his actions were selfless.

How to use this in an essay:

Gerald redeems himself in Act 2 by being honest about his involvement with Eva Smith 'when we met again - not accidentally this time of course'. He doesn't need to add it, but makes it clear that he meant to meet up with her again, the audience appreciate his honesty, as does Sheila. We find out that he tried to look after her so that she would see him again 'I made her take some money to keep her going there' he uses his wealth to do some good. He is also honest about his feelings 'I made her go to Morgan Terrace because I was sorry for her' he takes pity on Sheila and so we see a caring side to Gerald. Finally he did all of these things selflessly 'I didn't ask for anything in return' he didn’t expect anything off her. All of these things help the audience see Gerald in a more positive light.