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Show how the members of the patrol in "The Long and the Short and the Tall" respond to the pressures of the wartime situation, focusing particularly on the presentation of the characters of Macleish and Bamforth.

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Josh F Keeler 10.10.00 English Literature Essay: 20th Century Drama Show how the members of the patrol in "The Long and the Short and the Tall" respond to the pressures of the wartime situation, focusing particularly on the presentation of the characters of Macleish and Bamforth. Right from the beginning of the play we see a number of contrasting characters of different nationalities thrown together in a wartime situation. Tensions are running high, the ever-worrying threat of conflict with the Japanese looms large over the patrol. The scene is set in a deserted, palm-thatched store-hut deep in the Malayan jungle with the rumbling of machine gun fire in the distance. The constant fear of attack, dislike of war and resentment of their lot, and the differences in character understandably leads to conflict between the various members of the patrol. The first action of the play occurs when an argument between Bamforth, a loud and confident Cockney, and Macleish, a brash and anxious Scotsman, almost results in a fullblown fight between the two. Nerves are further frayed when Whitaker, the radio operator, while trying his best to contact base, inadvertently receives an incoming message from the Japanese. ...read more.


When Macleish discovers this he displays growing rage as his hatred builds up for the soldier. We can see this particularly in the quotation below. Macleish says: "I'll ram it down his rotten throat. I'll make him eat the rotten thing!" Although this is merely an empty threat we can see that Macleish's feelings towards the prisoner have dramatically changed. He reveals a brutal side towards the prisoner as shown in the next quotation: Macleish: "I'll kill him." Macleish shows down right hatred towards the prisoner, a large and significant change in his character. His humanitarian side is nowhere to be seen. However, here is a good example of his loyalty to his country and people at the mere thought of a fellow British man being killed by a "Jap". The other main character that we get to know in depth is Bamforth. This young, aggressive cockney is one of the first characters introduced. He is forthright and opinionated and always quick to become involved in arguments with other member of the patrol. He puts people down and has no regard for the feelings of the others. He is rebellious in his nature and shows blatant disregard for rules and for his seniors. ...read more.


The wartime experience has had a dramatic effect on most of the members of the patrol, particularly the aforementioned Bamforth and Macleish and it is difficult to state categorically whether they are better or worse people as a result. The characters have been shocked by the whole dreadful experience of war and this has led to definite changes in their attitudes and outlooks. Without doubt, the unexpected arrival of the Japanese soldier and subsequent events made the biggest impression on the patrol and caused them all to re-evaluate their instincts and reactions. Macleish has become more aggressive in his approach to people and has developed a real hatred for the Japanese. Bamforth, however, has undergone quite different changes. He has matured in a very short period of time from the young, aggressive cockney that he was into someone who has learnt to respect the lives of others. This unlikely bunch of soldiers was thrown together in desperate circumstances and forced to interact, to face impending danger together and to make decisions and to respond to situations they had never encountered before. The play has shown that each person is unique and responds to different situations and events in different ways. Some are able to use life experiences to enhance and promote their characters while others become hardened and embittered by them. ...read more.

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