Journeys End

Word Count: 1136 |

“Not one word is spoken in denunciation of war yet the, yet the waste, the insanity and blasphemy of war have rarely been so dramatically exposed.” How effectively does Sherriff expose the horrors of war?

In the book Journeys End written by R.C.Sherriff nothing is directly said about the waste of war but much is portrayed through he authors voice like the loss of young life’s as felt by most characters in the book, especially as Stanhope feels through out that Raleigh is too young to be there even though he joined young too however it could be argued that it greatly effected Stanhope as he has a drinking problem. The insanity of the war is shown with detail by using the character Osborne he is used by talking about how Stanhope and other characters have been affected and conversations are talked about socks and other “insane” activities such as cockroach racing. Blasphemy can be seen by the thoughts of the audience thinking weather or not the war truly is Gods will and how both sides in the war would of thought this.
For characterisation in this book I chose Hardy as my example. I feel hardy is a realistic character in the sense that he has the traits of a real army officer of the time the author creates this senses through making hardy a “posh” well background character this can be seen by him using words such as “splendid” and “hullo”. Hardy is recognisable by the fact he is close friends with other officers “”splendid! you know, I’m awfully glad you’ve come.” highlights the friendship between him and Osborne with the word “you’ve” and show that they’ve met previously and got on well. Familiar backgrounds are seen with many characters for families that may have had a younger son or brother going to fight they would relate well with characters such as Stanhope and Raleigh, however poorer background families will relate well with characters such as sargent major and trotter.
The author has used plot development well throughout the book with characters such as Stanhope and Raleigh and Osborne and Raleigh. There is a good development throughout the book with Stanhope and Raleigh, when Raleigh first enters and talks of how they were friends you may think Stanhope would be happy to see his friend and it may be good for him but then you discover Stanhope didn’t go home for his last time off this is probably because he is ashamed of his drinking and as Raleigh says later Stanhope is in love with Raleigh’s sister. Also Raleigh goes into Stanhope’s regiment expecting to see the same person he knew at school but instead sees a drunk yet reading on you are surprised to see that when Raleigh writes a letter home he doesn’t say anything bad about how Stanhope has changed but says how nice Stanhope is and how he hasn’t changed “he’s always on the front line making the men laugh just like he did at school. I’m awfully proud to think he’s my friend.” from that point on in the book Stanhope’s attitude changes greatly and he becomes a much better officer and has a long talk with the sargent major about a large attack. The plot develops with Raleigh and Osborne also as they become good friends in the book and Osborne becomes like a father figure to Raleigh but when Osborne dies it is interesting to see how Raleigh copes.
I think if i was an audience watching in1928 I would feel in a sense of closure and that I finally new what happened to my friend and relatives if I was of the younger generation e.g. twenty I would of remember hiding fro the bombs and being scared of the air raids and would finally be able understand what went on and feel thankful to the men that lost there life protecting us. Most of the audience would not of known what was going on at the time of the war. If I was an audience watching one or two years later I would probably feel like wandering what the point was as the depression was beginning and the wall street crash had just happened. Also from the point of an 1928 viewer I would be able to relate with character and recognise and maybe see my own family in the place of the characters thanks to Sherriff’s great characterisation. As an audience this day in age I would feel as I did in reading this book that it is thanks to men like Stanhope and Osborn that I’m writing this essay in English and that they went through so much hardship watching there friends die and they had to put up with poor conditions I also feel I may take certain things for granted like food “we have a real treat tonight a whole chicken” I would have this maybe once or twice a week like many other British families.
There is a good use of humour though in the book as well as tragedies I think this is used because it lightens the mood of the play and the audience also. By contrast to Stanhope’s drinking problem the men find humour in it “he drunk a whole bottle in fourteen minutes” this is an example of the humour used by the men this is a good way of showing how bored the men got and how they would use anything to take their minds off war. An example of humour used for the audiences sake is something like cockroach racing and how the men share tips “if you want to know how to make a cockroach go really fast dip him in some brandy” this is humours for the audience as something as absurd as racing a cockroach would not be a serious source of entertainment in the “reality” of life. A source of humour for the men would be like the little jokes the make “guaranteed to keep the foot dry, trouble is it gets so wet in doing so” this is funny as it is almost a play on words.
Dramatic presentation is very important in this book as it is the best way to show an audience in any time frame what it was like in this book they used very little furniture yet the men still speak of it as if they are lucky to have it this is a good way to represent to the audience that most battalions would have very little supplies. There also candles lit all the time this show that it is always dark in the trenches. The lighting and sound in this play plays just as big of a part as the visual representations, the sound in this play is very loud especially at the end in the last scene when the Germans are attacking there is sound almost through out to show the constant shelling the men went through. The lighting is almost dark and the real candles on stage are a dominant reminder of how even in day its dark although in certain parts there is a thin line of light representing the sun breaking over the top if the trench.
So in a summary of this playwright by R.C.Sherriff the characterisation of characters like Stanhope and Hardy is very complete and relatable to by an audience. The plot is deep but not to complicated to follow. You can see how an audience will today and would have been affected in the past. It is possible to identify and pinpoint the use of humour. And finally the dramatic effect of how lights sound and visual representation can effect your over all view in a play.

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