Compare the ways in which expected roles were determined by gender in ‘Journeys End’ and ‘The Accrington Pals’. To what extent would you agree that ‘Accrington Pals’ presents a more credible image than ‘Journeys End’.
A large proportion of Great War literature suggests that men were socially seen as the superior gender but women were given opportunities to prove themselves in a male-dominated society as a by-product of war. This essay will compare the issues of gender identity and roles at the front line in R.C Sheriffs ‘Journeys End’ and the impact war had on women who stayed home in Accrington, seen in Peter Whelan’s ‘The Accrington Pals’ during 1914 and 1918.
‘Journeys End’ appears to be a more credible drama because of Sheriffs first-hand experience of the war, where as ‘The Accrington Pals’ depicts the more emotional side of war. R.C Sheriff uses Stanhope as an example of how war affected young, intelligent and inexperienced men and showing the reality of war. Stanhope is the stereotypical male of WW1. He is the image of authority, power and patriotism. He is also thought incredibly highly of from the lower ranks. ‘He’s a long way the best company commander we’ve got’. It seems as though men were in the war for a long time but the reality being that the death rate of British officers was higher than that of the lower ranks with the average life expectancy of an officer being fourteen days. The word ‘long’ therefore creates irony within the drama. From the beginning of the drama, we are enlightened of Stanhope’s experience and dedication to his duty, however, Stanhope could be seen as a contradictory figure. His heavy drinking and reliance on alcohol may be a sign of weakness, which could also present Sheriffs use of realism in the drama. Stanhope is far from reluctant to admit he has a drinking problem. ‘Without being doped with whisky- I’d go mad with fright.’ Sherriff’s own experience may have been reflected on in this dialogue as men at war used to seek comfort in things in order to avoid fright. It is apparent that this is the reason for Stanhope’s excessive drinking. Seeking comfort in something seen as sinful by society is also typical of Ralph from ‘The Accrington Pals’ who seeks contentment whilst away from his girlfriend, Eva Mason. At the beginning of the play, Ralph expresses love, affection and admiration for Eva; ‘clever woman! Eh? Brains!’, which is why it seems disappointing when Ralph admits he has been unfaithful to her in whilst away at war, seen in the extract, ‘I’ve been a bastard to you Eva, if only you knew. Slept with whores’. Ralph, being a typical representation of a working class citizen suggests that war can turn even the most honourable man to adultery in the search for comfort. It is almost as if Whelan sympathises with the fragility of men because of their previous innocence, horrific war and their apparent flaws. Through the use Stanhope and Ralph as characters the audience understand the expectations placed on men because of their class. Stanhope, being from the high rank in the military is ultimately granted respect from the lower ranks, whilst Ralph in ‘The Accrington Pals’ was from a lower class citizen and in a lower rank, thus the reason for C.S.M Rivers arrogance and lack of respect; ‘we don’t want you shooting yourself in the head.’ C.S.M Rivers does not think Ralph is capable of the things man does in war, simply because of his class.
The patriotic character of Stanhope in ‘Journeys End’ compares with Tom Hackford from ‘The Accrington Pals’, who illustrates comradeship throughout the entire drama. Despite his description in the preface being that he is ‘a dreamy, utopian idealist young man’, he does not seem typical of the average man of the war as he appears almost as a young boy, not knowing the horrific reality of what is to come. He is very dedicated to his future duty as a solider and seems excited to fight for his country, although...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document