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Compare and contrast the techniques employed in portraying the horror of war in Regeneration and Journey's End.

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Introduction

Compare and contrast the techniques employed in portraying the horror of war in Regeneration and Journey's End. "I chose the First World War because it's come to stand in for other wars... It's come to stand for the pain of all wars." Pat Barker wrote "Regeneration" in the 1990's and R.C. Sherriff "Journey's End" in 1927, the quote is from Barker and illustrates the magnitude of the effect of the First World War, and expresses the appeal of the subject. Both works use different techniques in their portrayal of horror, and their effectiveness will be examined in turn. The authors chose different formats with one being a novel the other a play, thus giving them contrasting ways of conveying soldiers' experiences of war. In "Regeneration", Barker begins by exploring the character of Sassoon and through opening her novel with the declaration immediately demonstrates the adverse affect that war can have on rational young men. Karin Westman states "When Sassoon asks the public to make use of their imagination, he is asking them to imagine the horrors of the war, to conceive monstrous images, in order to comprehend its destructive force." Barker utilises the factual document to validate the anti-war stance of the novel. ...read more.

Middle

Barker, on the other hand, makes the reader more aware of the psychological effects war can have, rather than the physical- conveying the long-term consequences of war such as the slow breakdown of Rivers. Rivers is a character that the reader wouldn't expect to be affected by war in his role as medical officer. Each character in "Regeneration" is used by Barker to explore the horror of war from a different perspective. Rivers gives the reader a different insight, as a government doctor one would expect Rivers to be pro-war and encouraging soldiers to return to the front line. In a different way Barker illustrates the repercussions of war through the blood fearing doctor, Anderson, showing war affected those who were not even involved in the front line fighting, and the civilian Sarah, who represents the millions of women back home who didn't understand the suffering men endured and were "resented" for their innocence of the horrors of war. The scope of suffering Barker explores is in contrast to "Journey's End", where the focus is solely on the effects of war on the soldiers at the front. The intended audience for each work had an influence over its style/presentation and explains the difference in their portrayal of war and it's horror. ...read more.

Conclusion

R. C. Sherriff delivers a skilfully accurate portrayal of the situation and events that occurred during the war, as Christopher Stillwell suggests "perhaps only someone who had witnessed the horrors firsthand could tell such a story in a way that is both so simple and so gripping." Sherriff undoubtedly manages to create an authentic atmosphere with realistic characters and expressive stage directions, conveying the real emotive horror of the front line through simple dialogue and an inevitably traumatic finale- with the deaths of Osborne and Raleigh. However, Sherriff was unable to depict the horror of war as expressively as Barker due to the constraints of the stage and the era he was writing in. Barker, through graphic descriptions, vivid imagery and symbolism enables the reader to envisage the destructive effect of the war, especially on young men such as Burns who had their youth taken away from them. Barkers' motives for this bold portrayal lie firmly in her anti-war beliefs and strong political opinions, however as Peter Kemp in the Sunday Times admires she manages to present a great deal of trauma "without a tremor of sensationalism or sentimentality." It is the varied range of techniques she employs that make "Regeneration" a triumphant portrayal of horror in the First World War. Barker forces the reader to consider the impact of war and how the horrendous nature of the combat affected millions of lives. ...read more.

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