R.C. Sherriff's Journey's End

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R.C. Sherriff's "Journey's End" 'Journey's End' was written in 1928, ten years after the end of the First World War. The author, R. C. Sherriff, was injured during action in World War 1 and therefore got a ticket home. Sherriff was trying to raise money for a new boat club and so decided to write this play and perform it. The other club members refused to act out this play because it was too like the World War. There had been a tendency for men returning from the front not to discuss their experiences as they were too horrific and they did not wish their womenfolk to know the truth. So Sherriff went to the 'Incorporated Stage Society'. They agreed, after a while of asking, to have one Sunday performance at the Savoy Theatre in London. They were to judge the play and see if it was successful. It was very successful and then ran for another 600 shows. Sherriff then became a full time writer and died in November 1975. After 'Journey's End', many other books and plays were written and performed about World War 1, but Journey's End had been the first. In the play Sherriff uses many ways to portray the horrors of war and because it is set in a dugout the audience is brought right to the front line for the entire play. The conditions are conveyed in great detail and they are introduced at the very beginning of the play with Hardy trying to dry his sock out over a candle in a dugout. Sometimes the men could not get dry for days and the condition known as trench foot took its name from an infection of the feet resulting from being constantly wet. Lice affected the soldiers very badly in the trenches. The soldiers were on duty at the front for six days and then got time off to rest and be de-loused. The lice would be everywhere and even if the soldiers were clean they would be re-infested very quickly. Stanhope said the dugout 'reeked of candle-grease, and rats - and whisky' and like 'cess-pits'. During the play it was said by Hardy that there probably is over two million rats in and around No man's land. Hardy advised Osbourne not to sleep with his legs hanging too low 'or the rats gnaw your boots'. During the six days at the front the soldiers very rarely took their uniform off, not even for bed, except their shoes and wet items of clothing. They slept on beds sometimes with no bottoms, in the dugouts. They were bunk beds and had a frame and a few cross bars.
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