The Reality of War Exposed in Journeys End by R.C Sheriff

The Reality of War Exposed in Journeys End by R.C Sheriff

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The Reality of War Exposed in Journeys End by R.C Sheriff


In the play “Journey’s end” R.C Sherrif recreates the tremendous
stress and fear by the men at the front in the First World War. In
this essay I am going to focus on two characters, who show stress and
fear. The two characters the essay will focus on are Stanhope, who is
the captain and Hibbert who is an officer. A couple of background
realities about the war are that it started in 1914 and a numerous
countries were changed like Germany and England. This war was
dissimilar to other wars that were formerly fought because they used
more up to date weapons such as gas bombs and machine guns. It was
estimated that nine million people died. R.C Sherriff was once himself
in the World War one, as an officer in the East Surrey Regiment. He
was injured in the battle of Passchendael in 1917. Journeys end is
based upon his past experiences in the war - reflecting the way he and
his comrades lived and fought and repeating some of its events. R.C
Sherriff wrote other play, a few novels and quite a few film scripts.
R.C Sherriff is best remembered for Journey’s End.

R.C Sherriff reconstructs the war in Journey’s end by making the
audience feel as if they are there in the war with the characters. The
play is based in the officers dug out, which was where the most action
took place. In order to make the audience feel as if they were there
in the war R.C Sherriff made notes in the stage directions like for
example “the red and green glow of German alarm rockets comes faintly
through the dugout door” in this example the stage which the play
would be carried out would have been pitch black and red green
flashing lights and loud bangs which represents the war, it makes it
as if the audience feel as if they were there. The audience would feel
like they involved with the characters because of personal things they
were saying, for example an argument.

The dug out which is shown in most scenes of the play, where it is
set is very small with only one table. The situations in the trenches
would have been extremely uncomfortable for the men; this can be very
stressful for the men at times. This can be noticed from certain
things in the characters actions, “Captain hardy a red faced positive
looking man is sitting on a box by the table, he concentrated on
drying his sock over a candle flame”.

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In this example it shows that he
would of got his feet constantly wet because of the trench being so
damp and wet, they call this ‘trench foot’. In the trenches there was
nothing to sit on besides a box. Everything would have been
unrehearsed. The food for the officers was most likely to be good
quality. Their convenience of this is because Trotter (officer) has
gained weight during the war. There are some complaints of the tea
tasting of onions, which would have meant that wouldn’t have been much
washing up “pity Mason doesn’t clean his pots better” which was said
by Trotter subsequent to he had the onion tasting tea. From this it
shows that life in the trenches was less stressful and better
conditions for the officers than regular soldiers.

The main individual who I think shows the majority of stress in
Journey’s end is Captain Stanhope. He is the most stressed and
irritated person because, when he was at school he did not touch a
cigarette or drank. “ I remember once at school he caught some chaps
in a study with a bottle of whiskey, lord! He nearly blew the roof
off.” Raleigh said this when he arrived. Now that Stanhope is the
Captain of Battalion, he drinks and smokes because he is under
tremendous stress and pressure. There is evidence in the play that
Stanhope drinks an awful large amount of alcohol “he came to supper
with us and drank a whole bottle of whiskey in one hour fifteen
minutes.” All this shows he is attempting to tackle the stress. The
war has fully changed him into a person he is much worse off being in
the war. Stanhope was on edge when Hibbert commanded to see a doctor
at a hospital, and Stanhope threatened to shoot him. Stanhope
complains about not sleeping “I wish you turn in and sleep” Osborne
said, “sleep? - I can’t sleep” Stanhope said, this one of the signs of
stress and he drinks to solve his stress.

Another main character Hibbert shows the most fear. Hibbert is an
officer who is very much fearful of getting injured or killed in the
war. He does not fight in the war because, he has fought for three
months and feel as if he has done his part of fighting. He pretends to
be poorly so he can go home

“ This neuralgia of mine. I’m awfully sorry. I’m afraid I can’t stick
it any longer”. Hibbert is trying to convince Stanhope to send Hibbert
home ill to see a doctor. For the duration of this confrontation
between Stanhope and Hibbert, Stanhope is not convinced and
intimidates Hibbert with a gun. If Stanhope had let Hibbert go he had
to let the other men go too, so he made Hibbert stay by threatening
him to stay with a gun, Stanhope was on edge through stress and
Hibbert was absolutely terrified for his life. Towards the end of the
play Hibbert tells the men he has girlfriends, to get back his
confidence and looks at the other officers when he is talking to them
about his girlfriends “she’s all right isn’t she”. He had a picture of
one of his girlfriends and he is showing Stanhope and Trotter. On the
other hand Hibbert’s event of self-assurance with other officers is
short lived when Stanhope explodes and tells him to leave “get out of
here, for god sake!” Near the end of the play Hibbert was influenced
to go out to the battlefield by Stanhope who is being bizarrely nice
to Hibbert “all right, Mason Mr Hibbert’s coming up with you”.
Stanhope is not making Hibbert go alone so he partners up Hibbert and
Mason together.

R.C Sherriff recreates the tremendous stress and fear of the men
having characters that demonstrate stress and fear in what they say
and do. He makes the audience more involved in the play, and they feel
as if they are there in the war themselves so it is more realistic. By
bringing in inconsistent characters R.C Sherriff recreates the
dissimilarity in people who would have fought in the First World War.
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