Edwardian England



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This essay is based on the novel An Inspector Calls by J. B Priestly. My aim is to direct a new production of it with special reference to Act Three. I will be focusing on the personalities, individual appearances and morals of Arthur Birling and Gerald Croft. Also I will cast two actors to play the roles of Birling and Gerald. I chose to study these two characters because they have both opposite and similar views on different things. The first example of this is shown when they find out that Eva’s death is a hoax.

Birling is relieved because he might still get his knighthood and says “I’ll admit now he gave me a bit of a scare at the time. But I had a special reason for not wanting any public scandal just now. ” However, when Gerald finds out, he can’t quite believe that the girl he had slept with and had a relationship with has killed herself. This is demonstrated when he says “My God! Sorry – I – well, I’ve suddenly realized – taken it in properly – that she’s dead. ” When giving a detailed analysis of Gerald and Birling I would take into consideration what they are like, their motivations, passions and weaknesses.

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I would also look at how their personalities are affected by the era in which they lived. Gerald is described as an attractive young man aged about 30 years old. As the son of a wealthy businessman, owner of Crofts Limited, he is an eligible bachelor “rather too manly to be a dandy but very much an easy well bred man about town. ” This would suggest that he is sociable, self confident and enjoys his comfortable lifestyle. Gerald aspires to be a successful entrepreneur and in this respect, whether through personal ambition or social standing, admires the ruthlessness of Arthur Birling.

When the Inspector first arrives, both Gerald and Birling are unconcerned and are ironically joking that Eric might have been up to something. Gerald has a weakness for women and this is later shown when he makes Eva his mistress, despite the fact that Sheila, his fianci?? e, is at home waiting for him. Perhaps Gerald expects to have a lower class mistress and thinks that it is an acceptable attitude amongst the upper classes. Another of Gerald’s weaknesses is that he is ‘too emotional’ which is shown when the Inspector talks about his affair with Eva.

When Mrs Birling says “I don’t think we want any further details of this disgusting affair”, Gerald replies “You know, it wasn’t disgusting”. Even in front of his fianci?? e, he shows that he did have feelings for Eva in the relationship, although he didn’t intend it to last. He couldn’t have a relationship with a girl if he didn’t have feelings for her, unlike Eric, who later forces himself upon Eva. Another example of Gerald’s emotions occurs after his interview when he admits “I am rather more upset by this business than I probably appear to be.

” This could suggest that he tries to hold back his feelings, possibly so that he does not appear weak to Mr Birling. Being upset, he walks out for some fresh air after the interview and whilst he is out he meets a policeman. Gerald asks him about Inspector Goole and the policeman confirms that there is no such person on the force. Upon hearing this news, Gerald’s mood changes back to one of relief and suspicion. This may suggest that he was only upset because there may otherwise have been a public scandal, rather than genuine feelings over Eva’s death. Gerald’s opinion changes throughout the interview with the Inspector.

At first he is sad that Eva has died and needs time to be alone with his thoughts. However, after he finds out that the Inspector is an impostor, his mood reverts back to being jovial and relaxed. I think Gerald’s personality is affected by the times he lived in. The play is set in Edwardian England 1912 where society is divided into a definite class structure. Gerald’s attitude is typical of an up-and-coming gentleman who modestly commands respect and is politely charming amongst company. Arthur Birling is a prosperous factory owner but not the social equal of his wife as he is a ‘self-made man’.

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