Journey's End by R.C. Sheriff

Journey's End by R.C. Sheriff

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"Journey's End" is a dramatic and powerful play about the First World
War, which is written by R.C. Sheriff in 1920s. It talks about the
life of British soldiers in trenches. Unlike the previous plays about
the First World War, it does not emphasize the glory but the horror
and death of the First World War. Soldiers left their friends, parents
and homeland to war, fighting for their land because of the sense of
duty and loyalty; the cost might be really harsh. Death, the word
everyone fears; War, causing millions of soldiers, citizens to death.
Does anyone really win in a war?

In the "Journey's End", there are 7 characters (Stanhope, Osbourne,
Raleigh, Hibbert, Trotter, mason and the German Prisoner.) They are
all united with the external forces of war:

Stanhope - Stanhope is a young officer, he has a big change because of
what he saw in the war, and he is the only one who survived from lots
of battles for 3 years (He came out straight from school - when he was
eighteen. He's commanded this company for a year……… Other men come
over here and go home again ill… Act 1 Scene 1 P.6) Stanhope has a
reputation for drinking. I think he is using alcohol to forget the
changes. Everytime he meets Raleigh or when Raleigh calls him
'Dennis', Stanhope treats him really badly because he will remember
his past and changes on himself (………Did I ask him to force his way
into my company?…Very well, he'll pay for his damn cheek Act 1 Scene 2
P.30). Stanhope knew Raleigh has written a letter to home, Stanhope
thinks he would have written something that criticize him; After
Osbourne has read the letter to Stanhope, (Stanhope sits with lowered
head. He murmurs ……He rises heavily and crosses to the shadows by
Osbourne's bed. Act 2 Scene 2 P. 48) his reaction shows that he
misunderstood Raleigh and he felt sorry. At last Raleigh is wounded
and Stanhope feels so sorry about him, Stanhope knows that Raleigh is

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going to die, so he does what Raleigh requested in order to compensate
being mean to him.

Osbourne - an old chap, everyone in the army respects him, they called
him 'Uncle' because he is the most experienced among them. (I say,
Stanhope, it's a terrible business. We thought we'd got a tin of
pineapple chunks; it turns out to be apricots. Act 1 Scene 3 P.18)
from this quotation I can see that Osbourne has been being uncle.
Osbourne also keep things under control and break tension, this can be
shown when Stanhope is shouting to Raleigh, Osbourne says (Good
heavens, Stanhope! Act 2 Scene 1 P.46)

Raleigh - a young boy used to very friend with Stanhope, he is shocked
by the way Stanhope treats him (…you mustn't expect to find him -
quite the same. Act 1 Scene 2 P.13). Raleigh used to think Stanhope is
a hero but not any more (………He looked at if I'd hit him between the
eyes - as if I'd spat on him. Act 2 Scene 1 P.45) the relationship
between them are getting really worse and Raleigh begins to see the

Hibbert - a soldier who are as scared of death as every soldiers are,
he's desperate to get out of the war. He pretended he has neuralgia
inside his eyes and couldn't fight.

Trotter - a big fat soldier who loves to eat, he eats to decreases the
tension of war. He treats food more serious than the war (……war's bad
enough with pepper - but war without pepper - it's - it's bloody
awful! Act 1 Scene 2 P.20) because food can help him to forget about
the thing happening out of the dugout.

Mason - a servant; the entrances of Mason are always related to the
food and break the conversation and release the tension between the
characters. For examples, in Act 1 Scene 2 P.18, when Stanhope,
Osbourne, Trotter and Raleigh are having supper, Mason is called and
comes in. This breaks the suspicious atmosphere between Stanhope and

German Prisoner - a young German soldier caught in the action. He is
no one important. He is the same as every else is, he just come to war
for duty.

All of the characters have the same common points: they are here
because of duty; they are all feared of war and death. They are all
forced to fight, but after the war is over the consequences is
millions people are killed, people lost their home and parents, the
lost their life they used to live with. I think R.C. Sheriff agrees
the war is futile, in "Journey's End" the British aimed to catch a
German officer as prisoner and know what are the Germans planning, but
eventually they could only got a German boy who couldn't help at all,
therefore R.C. Sheriff doesn't want to show which side is going to win
this war.

Most of the scenes in "Journey's End", I particularly think Act 2
Scene 1 P.46 is the most dramatic. In this Scene, Stanhope knows
Raleigh has written a letter to home; Stanhope is so desperate to know
what has he written in the letter, if Raleigh has criticized him.
Stanhope forced Raleigh to give him the letter; the way he speaks
builds tension in the conversation (Stanhope [in a quiet voice]: You
leave it open). Raleigh rejected to do that. There is an argument
between them. Raleigh, again makes Stanhope realizes his past and his
changes during these few years (Don't "Dennis" me! Stanhope's my name!
You're not at school…………). Osbourne in here breaks the tension and
keep things under control (Good heavens, Stanhope!). After Osbourne
has read out the letter, Stanhope realizes that there is nothing
mentioned about him in the letter, he feels guilty and sorry about
Raleigh because the way he treat him.


In an interesting drama play, conflict is very important to it. The
reason is that without conflicts the drama wouldn't be exciting at
all. Conflict can tell how is the atmosphere building between
characters and scenes. The use of violence and the use of silence are
also very important to the play as well.

The use of violence: the argument about the letter in Act 2 Scene 1
P.46-48. The violence builds up the tension between the relationships
of the characters.

The use of silence: in any drama play, silence makes us feel the play
is full of mystery. It also builds up more tension than violence does.
In Act 2 Scene 2 P.55-56, Stanhope pointed his revolver to Hibbert
because he wants to see the doctor about his neuralgia. While Stanhope
is counting from fifteen (Stanhope [with his eyes on his watch]:
Fifteen more seconds! Act 2 Scene 2 P.56) Audience would consider
about Stanhope, whether he would shoot Hibbert for deserting.
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