An Inspector Calls

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Gerald Croft Character Analysis

Gerald is engaged to Sheila. During the inspection, Gerald admits to having had an affair with the girl in question—at the time, Daisy Renton—which prompts Sheila to return his engagement ring. Gerald comes out seeming the least guilty of all for the girl’s suicide. In the end, it is he who realizes that the whole inspection, and all of its premises, was a hoax. Nonetheless, he also seems less affected by the Inspector's casting of blame than Sheila and Eric, and Sheila denies his offer to renew their engagement.

Gerald Croft Quotes in An Inspector Calls

The An Inspector Calls quotes below are all either spoken by Gerald Croft or refer to Gerald Croft. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dramatists Play Service, Inc. edition of An Inspector Calls published in 1998.
Act 1 Quotes

There’s a good deal of silly talk about these days—but—and I speak as a hard-headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he’s about—I say, you can ignore all this silly pessimistic talk. When you marry, you’ll be marrying at a very good time.

Related Characters: Arthur Birling (speaker), Sheila, Gerald Croft
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Arthur Birling, the patriarch of the Birling family, gives a toast in which he welcomes Gerald Croft into the family. (The speech is important because it provides all the expository information we need for the moment--Sheila and Gerald are getting engaged.) Birling is described as a successful businessman, and his tone is casual yet emotional as he congratulates his daughter and future son-in-law.

There are a couple things to notice here. First, Arthur defines himself as a "hard-headed business man," even in the middle of his engagement toast. Indeed, Arthur is so focused on business and the capitalistic mindset that he thinks of his daughter's marriage in business terms--he later describes it as a "merger" between the Birling and the Croft family businesses. Furthermore, Birling claims that now is the "best of times" for marriage. He ignores the harsh realities of the time: as we know, World War I is about to begin. Birling's ignorance of the real world makes him seem small-minded and petty; by the same token, it allows the audience, with the benefit of hindsight, to feel a little superior to Birling and Birling's family--the Birlings don't know what's about to happen to their country, but we do.

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Gerald: We’re respectable citizens and not dangerous criminals.
Inspector: Sometimes there isn’t as much difference as you think.

Related Characters: Gerald Croft (speaker), Inspector Goole (speaker)
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Gerald Croft angrily tells Inspector Goole that Goole shouldn't be harrassing the Birling family. He claims that the Birlings are a respectable group--they're not criminals. Goole coolly replies that criminality and respectability aren't so different, deep down. Goole's statement could serve as a kind of thesis statement for the play itself: although the Birlings, and plenty of other families like them, are seen as normal and respectable in their capitalistic society, their money and good manners conceal a secret deviousness and vindictiveness that causes misery to other people, usually without punishment. It seems to be Goole's goal to bring some punishment, or at least self-awareness, to the Birlings.

The passage further suggests the link between capitalism and misery. Birling professes to be a good man and a good businessmen, and yet he only ascends to become wealthy by treating his workers horribly. Perhaps it's impossible to be a great businessman and a moral human being at the same time: businessmen are rewarded for ignoring their workers' feelings and needs.

Act 2 Quotes

I don’t dislike you as I did half an hour ago, Gerald. In fact, in some odd way, I rather respect you more than I’ve ever done before.

Related Characters: Sheila (speaker), Gerald Croft
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Sheila tells Gerald that they're not going to get married; she returns his engagement ring. Sheila's explanation for not wanting to marry Gerald is simple enough: Gerald has had an affair with another woman, and lied about it. The fact that Gerald didn't tell Sheila about his affair is bad enough--but he also tried to keep her from finding out about it when Inspector Goole called.

The passage is interesting because Sheila doesn't seem particularly angry with Gerald anymore. In a way, she claims, she respects him more than she ever has before: they've finally been forced to be honest with each other. The passage raises an interesting point--perhaps Goole's visit to the Birlings isn't as destructive as it seemed. Goole is dismantling the Birling's pretensions of goodness, but he's also allowing them to live more honest lives. Sheila, perhaps the most moral of the Birlings, seems to genuinely want to be an honest, good person, and so allows these public revelations to influence her private life and morality.

Act 3 Quotes

There’ll be plenty of time, when I’ve gone, for you all to adjust your family relationships.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Arthur Birling, Mrs. Birling, Sheila, Gerald Croft, Eric
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the Birling family has descended into arguing. A once-happy betrothed couple has split up, and everyone else is shouting at one another. The Birlings have learned that they're all greedy, drunk, disloyal, and even complicit in a woman's death. Goole listens to the Birlings arguing, and tells them that they'll have to work out their new "relationships" later--for now, they need to focus on Eva Smith.

Goole's statement can be taken in any number of senses. First, it's a sign that the Birlings, in spite of the new information they've received, are still making a big mistake: they're focusing too exclusively on each other's private faults, instead of showing real compassion for the deceased, or accepting the larger social ramifications of their actions (the fact that because they are so wealthy and powerful, they have undue influence over others). Second, Goole's statement reminds us that his investigation has permanently changed the Birling family. It's possible that the family will be permanently disgraced, or fall apart from within. Yet it's also possible that the Birlings--particularly Sheila--will learn from the experience and try to become better people.

This girl killed herself—and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it. But then I don’t think you ever will.

Related Characters: Inspector Goole (speaker), Arthur Birling, Mrs. Birling, Sheila, Gerald Croft, Eric, Eva Smith
Related Symbols: Eva Smith
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

The Inspector comes to the conclusion he's been anticipating this entire time. He's shown the Birling family that they caused the death of Eva Smith: in various ways, each Birling (and Gerald) has ruined Smith's life and pushed her to kill herself. Goole predicts that the Birlings will never be able to forget their sins.

Why, exactly, did Goole come to visit the Birlings? His visit seems far different from that of a typical police officer: he seems more philosophical, and more concerned with morality than with solving a crime. It's as if Goole just wants to teach the Birlings a lesson about the importance of personal responsibility. While Arthur Birling wants to believe that it's "every man for himself," Goole has endeavored to prove the opposite point of view.

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Gerald Croft Character Timeline in An Inspector Calls

The timeline below shows where the character Gerald Croft appears in An Inspector Calls. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
The curtain lifts to reveal a family—the Birlings—and one non-family member, Gerald, sitting at the dining-room table. Edna, the maid, is cleaning the bare table of stray... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
...Edna for the port she has brought out of the sideboard, and offering it to Gerald, with a promise that it is the same port that Gerald’s father customarily purchases. When... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
...husband for having made such a comment, but he responds that he was only treating Gerald like a family member. (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Sheila mentions, as an instance in which Gerald had seemingly opted out of membership in the family, that he had largely ignored her... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Birling rises to deliver the promised toast. He prefaces the speech by regretting that Gerald’s parents could not join in on the celebrations because they’re abroad, but then expressing his... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
...night, so Arthur raises his glass. They all raise their glasses, and Sheila drinks to Gerald. Gerald rises and drinks to Sheila, and then brings out a ring. Sheila asks if... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Birling mentions that there’s been a lot of “silly talk” around lately, but he encourages Gerald and Sheila to ignore all the pessimism and to rest assured that the notion that... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...leaves with Sheila and Eric, who is whistling “Rule Britannia,” and Birling sits down with Gerald. Birling tells Gerald, in a confidential manner, that he recognizes that Mrs. Croft may have... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Birling begins in again on his lecture. He tells Eric and Gerald that a man has to “make his own way,” and not listen to those people... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
...called on an important matter. Birling instructs her to let him in, and jokes with Gerald that Eric has probably gotten himself into trouble. Eric appears uneasy at the suggestion. The... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Gerald and Eric attempt to look at the photograph as well, but the Inspector does not... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...Eric wonders aloud whether it was because of Birling’s discharging her that she killed herself. Gerald asks if Birling would prefer that he left, and Birling say that he doesn’t mind,... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...previous pep talk, and Birling explains to the Inspector that he had recently been giving Gerald and Eric some good advice. Then Birling describes Eva Smith as a lively, attractive girl,... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
When Birling and Gerald chime in that there’s nothing more to be revealed, the Inspector asks if they’re sure... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Gerald asks the Inspector if he can look at the photograph, but the Inspector reiterates his... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...at Milward’s, she changed her name to Daisy Renton. At the mention of the name, Gerald looks startled and pours himself a drink. The Inspector and Eric depart, leaving Gerald and... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Gerald pleads with Sheila to not mention that he knew Daisy Renton, and Sheila laughs and... (full context)
Act 2
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...The Inspector remains at the door, and then enters the room and looks expectantly to Gerald. Gerald suggests that Sheila should be excused from the proceedings, but she insists on staying... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
When Sheila again insists on staying, Gerald suggests that she only wants to see someone else go through the questioning. His suggestion... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
...act so stridently and risk saying or doing something that she’ll later regret. She and Gerald and Mr. Birling, she explains, had all begun confident until the Inspector began questioning them. (full context)
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...has been consistently over-drinking for the past two years. Mrs. Birling doesn’t believe it, but Gerald testifies that Eric is indeed a heavy drinker. Sheila reminds her mother that she had... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
...at the Inspector’s tone and handling of the inquiry. The Inspector coolly proceeds to ask Gerald when he first got to know Daisy Renton. His presumption of an acquaintance between Gerald... (full context)
Public versus Private Theme Icon
Gerald explains that he was going to leave the bar when he noticed a girl who... (full context)
Wealth, Power, and Influence Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Gerald goes on to describe his first meeting with Daisy Renton—he took her out of the... (full context)
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Gerald apologizes to the Inspector, but Sheila insists that she rather more deserves the apology. The... (full context)
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Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Public versus Private Theme Icon
Gerald reports that he broke off the affair in the first week of September, right before... (full context)
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Upset by the proceedings, Gerald excuses himself to walk outside and be alone for a bit. Sheila returns her engagement... (full context)
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Mrs. Birling announces that it seems they’ve almost reached the end of it, but Gerald interrupts that he doesn’t think so, before he walks out the door. Sheila points out... (full context)
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The front door slams, and there is some question about whether Gerald has returned or Eric has left. The Inspector continues his interrogation of Mrs. Birling by... (full context)
Act 3
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Edna announces Gerald’s entrance. Gerald inquires how the Inspector behaved with them since his departure, and then he... (full context)
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Gerald proposes that the one fact that Eric and Sheila are assigning great significance—that Eva Smith... (full context)
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Gerald asks what happened after he’d left. Mrs. Birling recounts that the Inspector accused her of... (full context)
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Eric still doesn’t believe Gerald’s claim, and insists that the girl that he got pregnant was the same that asked... (full context)
Blame and Responsibility Theme Icon
Class Politics Theme Icon
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
...description of the girl’s suicide, in order to more easily bluff them throughout his inquiry. Gerald suggests that they call the Infirmary to confirm whether or not there was any suicide... (full context)
Morality and Legality Theme Icon
Gerald, Mr. Birling, and Mrs. Birling relax at this news and pour themselves a drink. Sheila... (full context)