Birdsong and Journey's End

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Compare the ways Sherriff presents the main character of Stanhope in Journey’s End with Faulks’ presentation of Stephen in Birdsong

Both “Journey’s End” by R.C. Sherriff and “Birdsong” by Sebastian Faulks portray their main characters of Stanhope and Stephen in several different ways. These include their ability as a leader, the way that they are introduced, how they are affected by the war and their troubled relationships with women. The contrast between the different forms of literature and the time periods that they were both written in could also affect the overall presentation of the characters, as Sherriff is relying on his own memories and Faulks is relying on accounts. This could alter how the characters are perceived by the reader.

Before being introduced, Stanhope builds up a big reputation with the audience. This is because many of the characters talk about him before he arrives. Hardy begins to criticise Stanhope at the beginning of the play, but Osborne defends him by saying that “He’s a long way the best company commander we’ve got.” This seems to instantly build up Stanhope’s reputation as an excellent commander and officer, and shows how he commands the men’s respect without even being in the room. Sherriff could have written him like this to show how somebody can just command instant respect, even if they are not there. Osborne seems to be saying this, even though he knows that Stanhope drinks. This could affect the audience’s viewpoint of Stanhope, because they may think about him differently after learning that he is a drinker. This may make the audience feel more tentative about him, as he is starting to be portrayed more negatively, rather than the positive viewpoints shown at first. In contrast to this, Stephen is introduced from the very start of the novel, and he is shown before the war. Therefore, the reader knows about Stephen before he is introduced in the war. Faulks seems to show Stephen’s abilities to do with war, as he...
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