Journey's End

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How does R.C.Sheriff re-create for his audience the tremendous stress and fear suffered by men in the First World War?

The First World War was nothing more than just truly shocking and horrifying but the scariest part was most probably the fact it would have scared the lives of many soldiers. The company commander, Stanhope, is a leader from an English school who had played cricket and 'rugger' brilliantly and is now a great inspiration to his men at the front. Stanhope's drinking clearly dramatizes the stresses of war but he is hailed by his men as one of the best Company Captains in the army. After three years on the front line he is left nervous and exhausted. “Journeys End”, written by the playwright R.C.Sheriff delivers the horror of war across to the audience by using many different techniques such as tension, emotions and also the horrors of murderous warfare. The main thing that makes this play work is the spirit of humour. Even with all the doom and gloom of the trenches, the officers Stanhope and Osborne and the rest of the company still manage to make each other light hearted which in the real war would of lifted great spirits amongst themselves. The new officer that joins the company was a young hopeful called Raleigh who did not know much about the war along with its troubles and horror. Out of the company Stanhope was the least relaxed by far from any of the others and the drink problem he had as this led to anger. You can tell that he is stricken with a drinking problem when Sheriff uses bold statements. So when Stanhope says; “Damn the soup! Bring some whisky!”

This would obviously affect the audience by informing that he is clearly annoyed as the playwright adds the strong word of “Damn”. It’s clear to say that he is in a mess due to the drinking, but he can’t stop so the effect on the audience is that he is the man in charge so Sheriff is making sure the audience know what kind of character he can really turn into once he is enforced with alcohol. For most of the officers, the duty’s they were put on were normally extremely stressful as they barely coped with traumatic times. For most people who suffered with a lot of dramatic trauma and saw some truly awe shocking visions as many tried to flee the war. When Stanhope was chatting with “Uncle” Osborne, he knew what Hibbert was doing. A previous officer faked himself out of Stanhope’s company before. His words filled with emotion and stress as he says; “Another little worm trying to wriggle home.”

The effect on the audience here would again mean that he is the guy everyone looks up to and his superiority overalls the rest of the company. So with his words “worm”, it says what he thinks of Hibbert, a small individual trying to coward out. Whereas at the same time Osbourne is defending Hibbert, basically telling Stanhope give it up. Hibbert was in fact one of the higher officers in the company. Hibbert made his move to try to get home by attempting “beasty neuralgia” by not eating any supper. As Stanhope knew he was up to old tricks, and threatened with counting to 3 which is an old childish technique for naughty behaviour. But this wouldn’t be a matter for Stanhope otherwise he would of planted a bullet through his head for lying and being a big coward and also a traitor to his country. As Post Traumatic Stress Disorder made a lot of men suffer, most officers got really stressed out and decided to turn to heavy alcohol. As demonstrated, in “Journey’s End”, Stanhope saw horror fly into his eyes so he got straight on the whisky. Hardy said a comment to Osborne saying; “is he drinking like a fish as usual.”

The effect on the audience here as that Hardy does not favour Stanhope himself as he uses irony in his words, almost in a sarcastic tone. The audience would immediately be drawn in to think at the fact a fish drinks loads, so they can imagine what he is like when he is on the whisky.This would make him sound like an alcoholic which in the War, a...
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