Compare and Contrast the Ways in Which the Writers Present the Horrors of the War in "Regeneration" and "Journey's End".

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 508
  • Published : April 6, 2008
Open Document
Text Preview
"Regeneration" was written by Pat Barker, a university-trained historian and this is confirmed by the presence of very reliable sources in the "Author's Notes", at the end of the novel. It was written the 1980's which has enabled her to gather a lot of information about the war. Pat's grandfather had been bayoneted during the war, and Pat would see his scars when he went to the sink to wash. His experiences in the war made influenced Barker's understanding of the period, making the effect of the war more immediate and personal. She attributes her immediate inspiration for "Regeneration" to her husband, a neurologist, who was familiar with Dr. Rivers's experiments on nerve "Regeneration" in the early twentieth century, yet she chooses not to use technical jargon so that her readers do not divert the focus from the painful experiencing on the part of both patient and therapist.

"Journey's End" was written by a playwright who had first hand experience in the war. His play is based upon real life experiences, mirroring the way he and his comrades lived and fought, it relives some of its incidents. Because the playwright was an officer in the war, and was injured at the battle of Passchendaele (1917) the play is made even more intimate than the novel "Regeneration"

The choice of setting of the novel and play are crucial in the way that the horrors of the war are revealed to readers and audiences of the texts. "Regeneration" is set in Craig Lockhart mental hospital in Scotland. Although this is hundreds of miles away from the frontline, Barker is still able to show the trauma and both physical and mostly mental suffering that the war has caused to soldiers. Having such a setting has allowed the author to isolate the theme of mental breakdown.

"Journey's End" however is set in the danger zone, just behind the frontline. Faint sound and lighting effects would be used to show shelling and grenade attacks, coming through the doorway that leads to the trench outside, reminding the audience of the war outside. The audience would feel as if they were in the middle of the war. Rivers is both the protagonist and the hero. As the main protagonist, he is the center of the novel, everything revolves around him. There are only 3 chapters when Rivers is not here. The novel closes on him. Other characters are like satellites around him. In the final chapter, they say goodbye to Rivers but they stay in his mind. Rivers is the hero, he is presented as an outstanding person, a terribly hard-worker. What is remarkable is the way he deals with his patients: his capacity for empathy.

Another secondary character, which shows how good Rivers is Yealland. Both are psychiatrists. Yealland is the anti-hero, the villain without any humanity. He is introduced not only because he really existed but because he is necessary to show the contrast between Rivers and himself.

In contrast, Stanhope is presented as a former schoolboy hero who used to be worshipped by Raleigh. "He was skipper of rugger at Barford, and kept wicket for the eleven. A jolly good bat too." "I was frightfully keen to get into Dennis's Regiment." However his alcoholism and cowardice changes the audiences mind about his heroics.

At the beginning, Rivers has a very clear cut attitude: the soldiers must go back to the front when they are better. It is his "duty" (p.48). "Duty" is a very important word for Rivers. But his belief will be undermined with the experience of his patients. Rivers gradually uses stronger and stronger words to express his horror at the war. This change is obvious in the chapter where Rivers looks for Burns: p.180: "nothing justifies this. Nothing, nothing, nothing." The italics show emphasis, underlying the key moment: it is the turning point in River’s changing attitude to the war. This transformation is one that Barker wants readers to go through. Rivers is a character that the reader can relate to and see the horror of the war through the eyes off....
tracking img