Gerald Croft tells the Inspector about his kindness to Daisy Renton. Is he kind to her, in your opinion, here and later in their relationship? J. B. Priestley wrote ‘An Inspector Calls’ in 1945. The story is actually set in 1912 and is a comment on middle class morality. The audience is made to examine not only the morals of the characters, but of themselves too. Gerald Croft is the son of Birling’s rival industrialist, Sir George Croft. He is engaged to marry Mr Birling’s daughter, Sheila.
On the surface this play appears to be a simple detective thriller with Gerald Croft being a well-mannered, likeable young man, yet as the play progresses this appearance is questioned. Inspector Goole uncovers the truth that Gerald had an affair last year with a working class girl whilst he was in a relationship with Sheila Birling. Gerald Croft had a kind heart but his weak principles overruled his good intentions so he didn’t help Daisy Renton in the best way. Gerald was unkind to Daisy Renton because he used her for his own benefits.
When he first met her, he saves her from the awkward situation with Alderman Meggarty and sets out to help her, which suggests that he had a kind nature to begin with. However, weak morals dilute, his good intentions. He had found Daisy attractive from the start, and he had allowed his feelings to develop. He felt affection for her but admits that her feeling for him were stronger than his feeling for her. Although he loved her, he wasn’t strong enough to pursue a relationship, which he knew would be against his family’s wishes.
His snobbishness took over and he preferred to make a life with a girl of his own class rather than a working class girl. A situation that shows Gerald is kind at heart is when he hears about Daisy Renton’s death. Gerald is ‘upset by this business’ because he realises his shallowness. He was suddenly ashamed that he used somebody like that and that perhaps this had contributed to her death. I think that Gerald is genuine because of his startled reaction when he realised that it was Daisy who was dead.
Gerald says ‘(Distressed) Sorry -I – well, I’ve suddenly realised- taken it in properly – that she’s dead’. Also when he had finished his story and he explained that he wanted to go for a walk, he gets all his words mixed up and can’t speak properly. His regret for the way he used her is genuine, but he is not as deeply touched as Sheila as the end of Act 3 shows. He felt responsible enough to find Daisy somewhere else to live and provided for her when he broke off the affair. However, did he really think about the long-term consequences for her when he started the relationship?
What was he doing in the palace bar anyway? This shows his lack of commitment to Sheila too. He had no serious thoughts about the future with her, but whilst he was with her, he did care for her. Daisy’s relationship with Gerald had affected her in such a way that it was a bit like a fairy tale romance for her. She was a working class girl; he was an upper class young man. Perhaps he enjoyed the hero worship, and didn’t take into account the fact that she was seriously in love with him. She was not bitter when Gerald ended the affair.
When Gerald tells the Inspector about this, he said that she had told him ‘She knew it couldn’t last – hadn’t expected it to last. She didn’t blame me (Gerald) at all. ‘ It seemed that she didn’t expect the relationship to last because of their difference in class background. Gerald’s weaknesses also affected his good intentions towards his fianci?? e. Despite knowing that he had been disloyal to her, he reacts surprised that she turns to attack him about his honesty because he genuinely wanted the best for Sheila.
She says to Gerald ‘At least I am trying to tell the truth. I expect you have done things you’re ashamed of too. ‘ Gerald ‘(surprised) Well, I never said I hadn’t. I don’t see why – ‘ The state of Sheila and Gerald’s relationship is now finished, as they knew it. They obviously didn’t know each other well enough to see the real character behind the mask. This disloyalty to both women indicates that despite his kind and chivalrous nature his own needs came first.
Gerald was unkind to Daisy Renton because he used her for his own benefits. He had a kind heart on a superficial level but his weaknesses reduced the effects of his good intentions both in the beginning and later in their relationship. His weak morals also diluted any kindness towards his fiance. My opinion of whether Gerald Croft was kind towards Daisy Renton is that he had a generous heart and intended no harm, but his weaknesses didn’t allow him to consider the consequences of their affair for the girl.