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?Journey?s End? by R.C Sherriff is a play which gives

a realistic picture of life in a First World War trench. Performed in 1928 when

the bitter memories of war were still fresh, it made a profound impact on those who saw it. It was

uncompromising and showed the awful truth to those who had been given the diluted

version. Until then, the harsh reality had been hidden and a brave front of

victory and triumph put on, masking the truth about the suffering of the

soldiers. They had also had a stretch of momentum, enjoying the victory of the War

and a peaceful land, and by 1928 they were ready to know the truth. For those who see it today,

however, it would not only teach them about war and how our country came to be

through the strength and spirit of those who fought and gave their lives, but

it also provides the audience with moments of high drama, light hearted humour

and deep poignancy. These are often not found in the commonly staged plays of

today such as ?Grease? and ?Joseph? whose only meanings are to teach the

youngsters of today that they should dream about love and fame, things not

relevant in such a difficult world. The youngsters of today too are becoming

more and more desensitised by watching violent films and TV programmes and

seeing emotive images of starving children and eventually they become deadened

to such things and they have no effect. This leads to children of today

becoming complacent and less sympathetic. By watching the perseverance and tragedy

of the men in ?Journey?s End?, it will show them the hardships of those who fought

for us and they will become more compassionate. The perceptions of war that

children today have, are about lots of fighting and the glory of winning

against Germany. This is because they are the first generation which has no

direct experience of the war, without any fathers and perhaps grandfathers

having fought in it, and have had no tales of bravery or integrity told to them

personally. It is hard for them to picture what went on and to really understand

what it meant to fight in the Great War and so can learn only from films and TV.

By watching ?Journey?s End? they will gain an authentic understanding about war

without the glorified and often romantic images some people perceive. They will

learn to have humanity to those who are less fortunate than themselves in the

modern world today. ??????????? The different

personalities and attitudes of the soldiers also indicate what sort of an

effect war had on you as a person. The characters all have their own ways of

dealing with war and the effects being away had on them as people. Osborne, who

still seems unaffected and compassionate, warns Raleigh not to expect too much

from Stanhope: ?You mustn?t expect to find him-quite the same?It- it tells on a

man rather badly?. The strain has taken its toll on Stanhope and inside he is

being eaten up so he turns to drink for comfort as his nerves ??have got

battered to bits?. Raleigh is young and his ideas are all of the glory of war,

of going away and fighting for your country. He is very naÏve and starry eyed. Young

men today will be able to relate to him as he is fresh out of school and has

not had much experience of war, but is keen to do his duty for his country.

Even those who show no obvious signs of the stresses and pressures of war, such

as Trotter, are still suffering within themselves. Stanhope enquires to Trotter

about his constant optimism: ?Nothing upsets you, does it? You?re always the same?;

but Trotter reveals the real distress and misery, saying: ?How little you know?.

This tells us that inside, Trotter was the same as all the other men. He was

still enduring the same torment as the other soldiers yet he put on an

unchanging front. An audience today would admire the strength of Trotter and

his ability to show the other men that it is possible to get through war, while

all the time he was experiencing the same problems. Along with those men who

obligingly got on with war, Hibbert is an example of one of those who thought

that they had done their bit and schemed to go home. He craftily complains of

so-called ?Neuralgia? which cannot be proved, in a desperate attempt to be sent

home- ?It?s this beastly neuralgia?The beastly pain gets worse every day?. The

other soldiers, however, are aware of Hibbert?s scheme, calling him ?Another

little worm trying to wriggle home?. The audience?s dislike of Hibbert would be

intensified when we see him joking and showing picture postcards of girls to the

other men. He acts like he is cool and manly when a real man would do his duty

like the rest of them. He also remarks that he is ?as fresh as a daisy? which

too would heighten our disgust as he hasn?t done anything to make him tired. ? ??????????? The

scenario with Hibbert then leads on to a very intense moment in the play. There

are many of these which serve to keep the audience engaged in the play. Hibbert

pleads with Stanhope to be allowed to go to the hospital, to which Stanhope

bluntly refuses. Finally Stanhope says to Hibbert ?If you went, I?d have you

shot- for deserting?. This was because those who tried to leave and abandon the

war could be killed. The audience would be very apprehensive, and anxious to

see if Hibbert does get shot. The scene then becomes more intense as Stanhope

says that he could make it look accidental, to spare Hibbert the disgrace of forsaking

his country and he even gives him ?Half a minute to decide?. The audience would

feel more tense now as they see that Stanhope is serious, and they would be

excited to see what would happen after the thirty seconds was up. Finally the silence

is broken by Hibbert laughing: ?Go on then shoot! You won?t let me go to

hospital. I swear I?ll never go in those trenches again! Shoot!?. This is a

very good example of dramatic tension in the play, as the audience is left in

suspense to see if Stanhope actually does shoot him. He counts down ?10?5?, the

anticipation is building and finally reaches its peak, until Stanhope

congratulates Hibbert ?Good man, Hibbert. I liked the way that you stuck that?.

In this scene R.C Sherriff lets his audience see what he thought of deserters.

It is very thrilling, yet at the same time, it is very emotive. The audience in

1928 would have recognised Hibbert as a deserter and their pity for him would

be reduced, yet at the same time they would possibly have sympathy, as they

would now realise what war has done to Hibbert, and he can?t take any more

waiting to see if he will die, and he is even prepared to be shot rather than

go ?over the top? and risk being killed by the Germans. ??????????? Another

dramatically tense moment in the play is when Osborne and Raleigh have been

chosen to go ?over the top? to raid the German trench for a prisoner. Raleigh

as usual is in high spirits and is very excited about the attack. Osborne

however is more understanding to the situation and does not underestimate the

task ahead. He leaves his ring behind ??in case anything should happen? so that

Stanhope can pass it on to his wife. The audience would feel very uneasy now

realising the true danger that the men face and the fact that they might not

return. It also shows that the men are nervous by their idle conversation about very trivial things: ?D?you like coffee better than tea? ?I do for breakfast?. The audience has already learned that the operation is

very dangerous as Stanhope told the Colonel ?The Boche are sitting over there

with a dozen machine guns trained on that hole- waiting for our fellows to come?

so we fear for the safety of Osborne and Raleigh, and we wait in anticipation

to see if they survive. When the party does arrive back, we are left in more

suspense to see if both Raleigh and Osborne are safe. The Colonel asks lots of

questions to the German boy to keep us interested until eventually we find out

that Raleigh is back Safely but Osborne has been killed. Along with lots of drama, ?Journey?s End? also has moments

of comedy, often before a serious point in the play to provide light relief, so

that is not too heavy and sombre. The play opens in a light-hearted, chatty manner so that

the reality of trench-life will have more of an impact. The soldiers joke about

what is for tea: ?I mean- after all- war?s bad enough with pepper- but without pepper-its-its bloody awful?, and later on

about the tea tasting like onions: ?but we aven?t ad onions for days?. It also

shows that they are trying to grasp on to reality and life before the war. They

also joke about the soup- ??What kind of

soup is this Mason?? ?It?s yellow soup sir? Mason replied. ?It is also entertaining

when Stanhope is drunk and he says to Osborne ?Kiss me uncle? this is also quite

sad as we see that this is how Stanhope feels inside, as there is no opportunity

for love when you are at war. The soldiers make their own entertainment in the

play which can also lead onto humorous moments. One of these ways is the earwig

race which they hold. Hardy tells Osborne how to get the best out of an earwig-

?. Dip it in whisky- makes ?em go like hell!? Along with the drama and the

humour, there are also very poignant moments which make the play worth

watching. Along with being dramatic, the scene with Osborne and Raleigh before they

go ?over the top? is also a moment where the audience would feel real sympathy

and pity for the men. We feel really sad for them as Raleigh is really naÏve as

to what is happening and is excited, talking about what they will do when they

go over, but Osborne is wise to the danger they are in and tries to change the subject

of the conversation so that they can talk about something else ?? now lets

forget about it all for?. 6 minutes?. So they recall life before they went,

talking about England and the New Forest. We feel really sorry for the men as

we realise that they may die soon and are trying to forget about it. We would

also feel greatly sad when Osborne leaves his ring behind, telling Raleigh-?I

don?t want the risk of losing it?, to which Raleigh replies quietly ?Oh?. Here

we realise that Raleigh has finally realised the true extent of the danger

which they face and the fact that they might not come back, this makes us feel

compassionate for the men. Another moment in the play

which is very emotive is when Stanhope tells Hibbert that he too suffers from

nervousness -? Because I feel the same -exactly the same!? This shows the

audience that even the most brave of men who appear to be untouched by the war,

are suffering inside. In this scene we also go on to feel pity for Hibbert who

was prepared to die, rather then carry on, not knowing when he would die. It helps

us to understand the real pressure the men were under, waiting, not knowing whether

they would live or die. Overall the play as a whole

makes us realise the true courage showed by the men, in risking their lives

fighting for their country, helping us to become more understanding, and

opening our minds. Although at times the language used may seem outdated, using

phrases such as ?simply topping? and ?jolly bucked?, the audiences attention is

held throughout. This is done by techniques including high drama, humour and

poignancy in the play to ensure that audiences today will find the play

interesting to watch, whilst teaching them about how their country came to be

at the same time.

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