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If I Were You Summary in English by Douglas James

If I Were You by Douglas James About the Author

Douglas James bom in Bray in 1929 as written frequently for television, most notably as the creator of The Riordans, RTE’s long-running serial in the 1970s. He has also written a number of plays including The Savages, The Ice Goddess and North Traffic Straight Ahead, an ironic drama of wasted urban lives.

Author Name Douglas James
Born 13 October 1888
Died 11 December 1946
Education Westminster School, Trinity College
Nationality British
Books The Mad Mullah of Somaliland
If I Were You Summary by Douglas James
If I Were You Summary by Douglas James

If I Were You Introduction to the Chapter

If I Were You by Douglas James is an interesting play that has mystery, suspense, surprise and humour. It is a story in which an Intruder intends to kill Gerrard and impersonate him to escape the law but the tables are turned on him as he is trapped due to Gerrard’s presence of mind. The play thus brings out that intelligence and presence of mind can help us come out of trickiest of situations.

If I Were You Summary in English

If I Were You is the story of Gerrard a cultured playwright. He is something of a mystery man. He is not very social, lives in a lonely cottage in the wilds of Essex, gives his orders on the phone and never meets the tradesmen.

The play opens with Gerrard answering a phone call which is from a client to whom he promises to deliver the props for rehearsal. He is busy packing for travel in this connection when a flashily dressed Intruder, wearing an overcoat and a soft hat and carrying a revolver in his hand enters the room. However, before he can take Gerrard by surprise, the Intruder bumps accidentally against a table, and alerts Gerrard to his presence. Not at all nonplussed, Gerrard tries to figure out who the Intruder is when the latter threatens him with dire consequences if his questions are not answered. The Intruder declares that he is not there to tell him about himself but to learn more about Gerrard.

The Intruder, who looks somewhat like Gerrard, wants to murder Gerrard and thereafter steal his identity. He is a robber who specialises in the theft of jewels and plans to use Gerrard’s house and car for his schemes. By assuming his identity, he can evade the police and lead a peaceful life. The Intruder further surprises Gerrard by telling him that he has noticed his (Gerrard’s) manner of speech and has taken care to adopt a resemblance to him in looks too. He needs to change his identity because the cops are searching him for having killed on of their colleagues. He also tells Gerrard how he has come to know about him, and his habit of keeping aloof, by overhearing a conversation between two people.

But it is the clever Gerrard who has the last laugh when he fools the Intruder into believing that he, too, is running from the law and is about to flee. He explains to the Intruder that unfortunately one of his men has been caught.

He is expecting trouble that night. That is why he is ready to make his getaway. He has a disguise outfit ready; false moustaches and what not.

He adds that he has posted a man on the road to call him the moment he sees the police.

The Intruder seems taken in.

As the telephone bell rings, Gerrard tells the Intruder that it might be the call from the Informer. He completely befools the Intruder by making him check for himself if everything is safe outside before they escape. He makes him peep into a dark cupboard giving the impression that it leads to the garage. The moment the Intruder peeps in, Gerrard pushes him into the cupboard, knocking the revolver out of his hand.

While the Intruder keeps rattling the door and shouting, “Let me out of here!”, Gerrard gets down to business. Very coolly he answers a phone call, apologising that he wouldn’t be able to deliver stage props in time for rehearsal. At the same time he requests the caller to send the sergeant to his place. All this while he guards the cupboard with the Intruder’s revolver.

Gerrard is so impressed by this incident that he decides to use it as the plot for his next play.

If I Were You Title

If I WAre You is a very appropriate title. It refers to the wishful thinking of the Intruder who wants to assume Gerrard\s identity in order to escape the law. His idea of eluding the police by living on a borrowed identity remains unfulfilled as he is trapped by Gerrard and outwitted before he can end Gerrard’s life assume his identity. His dreaiij to impersonate Gerrard comes to an end, when Gerrard turns the tables on him and captures him. The speculative “If’ in If I Were You remains just that – mere speculation.

If I Were You Setting

The setting of the play is a room in the cottage of a playwright, Vincent Charles Gerrard, in the in the wilds of Essex. The dottage is isolated and quite sitable as a writing retreat for a playwright who is something of a mystery man as he is not very social and never meets the tradesmen. It is also quite suitable as a hideout for a criminal on the run.

If I Were You Theme

The theme of the play emphasizes the need of retaining one’s presence of mind and a cool head in situations of crisis. Panic complicates matters but cool temperament can help one escape fro any tight comer with ease. Criminals, who mastermind most well thought out crimes, can also be outwitted because they are fearful of the law and of getting caught. Hence, tactful planning and handling of a situation can trap even ‘experienced’ criminals.

If I Were You Message

The play gives the message that over-confidence can lead to disastrous results. One should never consider oneself to be smarter than the opponent. The Intruder makes the serious error of thinking that Gerrard is no match for him. Therefore, he lets down his guard. The play also conveys the message that intelligence, presence of mind, and keeping a cool head can help us overcome the gravest of problems that we may encounter. Gerrard retains his cool and turns the situation to his advantage and cleverly tricks the Intruder and locks him up in the cupboard before calling the police.

If I Were You Humour

Though the play deals with a criminal and a playwright threatened by him, there is a thread of humour that runs through the play. The humour is neither boisterous nor unnatural. It is refined and subtle. Gerrard’s cool- headedness and presence of mind make him come out with such witty and sarcastic remarks that annoy the Intruder and amuse the audience. When the Intruder asks him to talk about himself, rather than panicking, he says he is happy to have a sympathetic audience. When the Intruder says he intends to live in his cottage, Gerrard, rather than being shocked, says, “You have not been invited”. Talking about the Intruder’s looks, Gerrard remarks, “You are not particularly decorative”. Such humour runs throughout the play and making it not just a gripping drama but also an entertaining one.

If I Were You Characters


Gerrard, the protagonist of If I Were You is portrayed as a man of many virtues. He is endowed with a brilliant wit, a sharp mind, smart thinking, and a sense of humour. All these qualities, combined with his ability to keep a cool head enable him to handle even a life-threatening situation very successfully and easily.

Gerrard is associated with the theatre. He is a playwright who also acts in and provides props for plays. He is not very social, lives in a lonely cottage in the wilds of Essex, gives his orders on the phone and never meets the tradesmen. This is probably because he likes his solitude while writing.

A refined and a cultured man, Gerrard keeps his cool even in the most difficult situations. The sight of an Intruder doesn’t ruffle him and he talks to him very courteously and pleasantly. His sense of humour irritates the Intruder many times. He calls the situation melodramatic and calls himself a sympathetic audience.

Even when he is confronted with a life-threatening situation, Gerrard retains his presence of mind and lays a trap for the Intruder. He handles the situation with the Intruder very cleverly. He convinces the Intruder that he, too, is a criminal on the run, and they can both escape together.

Everything comes so naturally and spontaneously to him that the Intruder walks into his trap unsuspectingly. Gerrard’s intelligence not only outwits the Intruder and saves his own life, but also helps the police in nabbing a Wanted criminal. In fact, Gerrard, with his unagitated, composed manner serves as a foil to villainous Intruder who is edgy and agitated.


The Intruder is a criminal on the run. His “speciality” is jewel robbery. The police is on the lookout for him. So, he is looking for a safe place to hide. The villainous scoundrel, makes an intriguing plan to dodge the police. Cold blooded, as he is, he has hatched a crafty plan to achieve his aim. He plans to kills Gerrard and steal his identity. He is smart and has chosen Gerrard, as he realises he is a bit of a mystery man – a recluse – and that they are somewhat alike in looks. He decides to use these facts to his advantage.

The Intruder is a criminal who has been eluding the police ever since he killed a cop. He has no sense of remorse for the crime he has committed. In fact, he is further sinking in the mire of criminal activities by killing Gerrard and stealing his identity.

The Intruder is a bungler. This is probably because he is edgy and agitated. He enters Gerrard’s cottage silently, but accidently bangs against a table. This alerts Gerrard to his presence. He, thus, is not able to take him by surprise. In the end, too, he goes to inspect what is actually a cupboard, but which Gerrard claims is the garage and is trapped.

The Intruder copies the American way of speaking. “Put those paws up!” An amused Gerrard asks him “Are you American, or is that merely a clever imitation?” This shows he either watches a lot of Hollywood films or reads Crime novels.

If I Were You Summary Questions and Answers

Question 1.
Briefly describe Gerrard’s appearance.
Gerrard is a man of medium height and wears horn-rimmed glasses. When the play opens, he is dressed in a lounge suit and a great coat. He talks in a cultured voice and his demeanour is confident.

Question 2.
Who was the Intruder in Gerrard’s house? Why did he break into his house?
The Intruder, who broke into Gerrard’s house, was a criminal. He had murdered a cop and was being chased by the police. He broke into Gerrard’s house with the intention of murdering him and taking on his identity to evade the police.

Question 3.
How did Gerrard behave on seeing a gun-totting stranger in his cottage?
Gerrard kept his cool and remained absolutely unruffled when he saw the gun-totting stranger in his cottage. There was neither any panic nor any ring of tension in his voice. He remained his normal self and talked to him casually.

Question 4.
Why does the Intruder intend to kill Gerrard?
The Intruder is a criminal who is being chased by the police for having murdered a cop. As per his plan, the Intruder intends to kill Gerrard in order to take on his identity and escape capture by the police. In this way, he can lead a peaceful life without living in constant fear of arrest and punishment.

Question 5.
Why does the Intruder not kill Gerrard immediately?
The Intruder does not kill Gerrard immediately because he first wants to get all the necessary information from him. Without this information, his plan to take on Gerrard’s identity will not succeed.

Question 6.
What impression do you form of the Intruder as he comes in? Give examples to illustrate.
The Intruder is similar in build to Gerrard enters from the right silently – revolver in hand. He is flashily dressed in an overcoat and a soft hat. He seems to be a dangerous person as he is carrying a pistol and threatens Gerrard. He claims to have killed a cop. He is mean, heartless and crafty, for he plans to kill Gerrard and assume his identity in order to escape the police. He is over-confident because he claims that Gerrard is no match for him.

Question 7.
“You’ll soon stop being smart.” Why did Intruder think that Gerrard was being smart?
The Intruder thought that Gerrard was being ‘smart’ or clever and facetious because he did not show any fear at the sight of an armed man enter his house and threaten him. To the contrary, he was giving the Intruder smart answers to his questions.

Question 8.
How did the Intruder threaten Gerrard ?
The Intruder threatened Gerrard by saying that he would soon stop being smart. He would make Gerrard crawl.

Question 9.
“I want to know a few things, see.” What sort of information did the Intruder want from Gerrard?
The Intruder wanted personal details from Gerrard like whether he lived alone, what his Christian name was, whether he had a car and whether people visited him. All this information was necessary for the execution of his plan to dodge the police by killing Gerrard and taking on his identity.

Question 10.
Why did the Intruder say, “They can’t hang me twice?”
The Intruder said this because he was already wanted for having murdered a cop. If he managed to kill Gerrard, as per his plan, and was later arrested, it would not matter as the punishment for this murder, too, would be a hanging. They could not hang him for the two murders twice.