Emotions about War in Sherriff’s ‘Journey’s End’ and Curtis and Elton’s ‘Blackadder’
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Sherriff’s ‘Journey’s End’ and Curtis and Elton’s ‘Blackadder’ are both plays which are set in World War One and focus on only a small number of characters. A set up like this allows the audience to observe the various emotions felt by characters towards the War, ranging from jingoism to consciousness objection. Both plays present a shift in the general emotions of characters as they spend more time in the War. The playwrights explore these emotions in different ways, and I will be considering this.
In both ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Blackadder’ we find characters who are extremely jingoistic concerning their attitudes towards the War. The character of George in ‘Blackadder’ possesses similar qualities to Raleigh in ‘Journey’s End’ in that the two men are very patriotic and enthusiastic about their duty. Both characters explain their feelings upon signing up for the War. Raleigh explains that he was ‘keen to get out’ after seeing Stanhope home on leave expressing the attitude of many young men in England during the time of the War who knew people in the army. George reminisces upon the day of signing up saying ‘gah, what a day that was’ suggesting that, he too, was enlivened about the prospect of becoming a soldier. The extreme patriotism of some of the men in the War meant that they had ardent hatred towards Germans. In ‘Blackadder’ this is dealt with in a humorous way. George shares his strong opinions concerning the Germans with the other men claiming that the War was caused by ‘the vile Hun and his villainous empire-building’ which is rather ironic as it was Britain who had the larger empire. This use of humour and irony expresses the hatred many soldiers felt towards the enemy, but it also serves as an allegory for their lack of ...
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...owever Sherriff has stated that ‘Journey’s End’ was not meant to be a political play. Even if there is no political message, both plays clearly show that attitudes towards the War changed from positive to negative as it progressed.
Both ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Blackadder’ explore attitudes towards the War. Different characters express different emotions but a common trend in both plays is the decline of patriotism and eagerness as naïvety and innocence are lost. Examples of this can be seen throughout literature and history. ‘A Soldier’s Declaration’ is possibly the best known piece of writing which summarises this change in emotion and it is highly relevant to the attitudes of characters such as Raleigh and Baldrick within these plays. Both plays explore this in different ways, through the utilisation of various characters, literary devices and choices of structure.