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How Do You Respond to Gerald in an Inspector Calls?

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  • Category: Audience

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How does Priestley make you respond as you do by the way he writes? (30 Marks) The character of Gerald in An Inspector Calls is one that produces different responses; this is due to Priestley’s writing style. During the start of the play Gerald takes a low level status but by the end of the Play he is defiantly trying to save himself and the family. How does Priestley make us feel like that? Well it’s all down to the stage directions and how the characters interact.

Starting with the first act Gerald takes a very minimalistic personality, he simply agrees with anything Mr Birling says ‘I agree’. This makes the audience feel that he is trying his best to fit in with Mr Birling’s capitalist views just so he will let him marry his daughter. This response is carried through the first scene by Priestley as he lets Mr Birling make long and presumptuous speeches, Gerald just accepts them and moves focus onto Sheila. This makes the audience think that Gerald doesn’t actually care about Mr Birling but He is focused on Sheila, this could be him trying to not let his affair come out in the open. Furthermore in the stage direction it is said that ‘Mr Birling lights a cigar and Gerald… lit a cigarette’. I think this is Priestley showing the class divide between both of them as a cigar is a very arrogant thing to smoke whereas a cigarette is more ‘normal’ Priestley could be emphasising the attitudes of both characters here. As Soon as the Inspector arrives Gerald hints that’s Eric has been up to something ‘Unless Eric’s been up to something’. This could be a foreshadow of what is to come; Priestley is developing the ideas that Gerald has more to him then he is letting on.

As The inspector leaves the dining room to talk to Eric, the interrogation of Gerald from Sheila starts. She is using all the responses of the audience and the inklings that there is nothing to hide to her advantage. This makes Gerald tense and Priestley show this by telling the actor that Gerald is ‘trying to smile’. This furthers suspicion and breaks down the wall of protection that Gerald had been trying to build up with Mr Birling. When Gerald leaves the dining room in act two it makes the audience question his involvement in the rest of the inspection ‘I was expecting this’. Upon Gerald’s arrival in act three he brings with him a new air of confidence ‘Cutting in’. This makes the audience think back to when the inspector cut in to people’s speeches, it creates a response of Gerald inspecting the inspector. Throughout the last scene he keeps attempting to prove the inspector was a hoax and tries to salvage his engagement ‘By ringing up the infirmary’. It make the audience think that when he was out of the play he could have thought long and hard of a way to cover up his affair and make Sheila forget it.

Gerald’s last line is ‘Everything’s all right now Sheila. What about this ring?’ This shows the audience that he either loves Sheila for herself or, the more sinister he wants to marry her for her money and is still in love with Daisy/Eva, the audience is faced with a dilemma that Priestley creates

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