Write a comparison in the ways in which warfare is presented in the novel Strange Meeting and the play Journeys end
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Write a comparison in the ways in which war-fare is presented in the novel Strange Meeting and the play Journey's end: Ware- fare is the issue of conflict between not only the opposite forces but between the comrades. It is apparent that this is a central theme in both texts 'Strange Meeting' by Susan Hill and in the drama 'Journey's End' by C.R. Sherriff. The subject-matter of war-fare is a broad topic, in which both texts cover a wide range of issues that were prevalent during the war. In particular there will be a thorough examination of both texts, in their presentation, of war-fare and its effects. As they both present war-fare by dealing with the issues of the relationships of men, as well as the relationships with their families at the home- front, an issue which is linked with the soldier's detachment of their homes. In addition I will explore the presentation of war-fare initiating fear, the inevitability of death and the futility of war-fare which is a key point, which both texts try to emphasise through language and action. The subject matter of war-fare is portrays a strong sense of detachment of soldiers from their home. This is clearly demonstrated through the language and can be seen particularly, in the initial pages of Strange Meeting, through protagonist, John Hilliard, who due to his determination to stay awake, in his bedroom, because 'He was afraid to go to sleep. For three weeks, he had been/ afraid of going to sleep.' An opening declaration, which sets the mood of the novel, as one of restlessness and distress, to illustrate his detachment of his home, which is demonstrated in his inability to sleep, an idea which is reinforced through the repetition of 'afraid'.
German, is amusing as he is aware that the German boy speaks English, yet he continues to question him in 'poor German'. However when they reverse back to English, the Colonel refuses to push for answers to his questions but merely replies: 'Oh, well, that's all right.' A reply which intends to show his incompetence, as many men have died for the capture of the German and yet he behaves as if he is not the captor, making the audience question, which one of them is in control. His incompetence and is further emphasised in Act 3 scene 1, as he overlooks the men, that went on the raid and instead 'excitedly' comments on how pleased the brigadier's will be. Behaviour, which Sherriff emphasises, as it astounds Stanhope, who gives '[...one look of astonishment at the COLONEL and/ strolled past him. He turns at the table and speaks in a dead voice]' replying 'How awfully nice- if the brigadier's pleased'. A sarcastic and discourteous reply, which Sherriff uses to show increasing signs of Stanhope losing his respect for his superior officers but also creates tension as it shocks the Colonel, into changing his bearing and asking about the men. Although Stanhope's anger can be felt through his challenging the Colonel in asking 'Did you expect them safely back, sir?', a question, which shocks the Colonel as he then goes on to stutter euphemism: 'I'm very sorry. Poor Osborne', as he, 'fidgets uneasily as STANHOPE looks at him/ with a pale, expressionless face.' Actions and dialogue, which shows his gaucheness in dealing with other officers but also makes him, seem insincere. We also get strong portrayal of men's feelings in war-fare, in particular the emotion, of the fear soldier's felt during the war, although our reactions to these feelings differ slightly in both texts.
However this is subsided through the similar device of the motif used throughout the play. An example is when Osborne's character, comforts Raleigh in the final minutes, keeping his mind off the raid with distracting questions of 'Your coffee sweet enough?', a conversation of food which like, Strange Meeting's motif of the poignant smell of roses, food in Journey's End acts as a motif, as it is a constantly recurring throughout the play. This is a motif is an effective technique, which Sherriff uses to ease the tension in the scene as food is a light topic and indicates a sign of normality in the midst of war-fare. In conclusion I feel that both texts are successful, in their own way, in presenting images of war, through the use of appropriate devices, however I think that Hill's presentation of war is much more moving and expressive, which is why I preferred reading 'Strange Meeting' because she was able to portray the characters feelings and set the scene, for the reader, through devices such as sensual imagery, which brought the scenes alive and shaped the text. However this preference may also be due to the difference in genre, as she is able to use more varied range of devices or it could be because due to their differences gender, as Hill is female, while Sherriff is male and therefore took a distant approach, which was effectual but typical of the male writers, who wrote during the war. However they are both similar in their presentation of war-fare, in recognising the different emotions the men felt, during war, as well as the detachment, form home, war-fare brings about.
This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Synoptic Paper section.
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