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An exploration of the changing relationship between Stanhope and Raleigh and how it develops through Journeys End

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Introduction

An exploration of the changing relationship between Stanhope and Raleigh and how it develops through "Journey's End" R.C Sherriff, a famous play writer born in 1896, lived during the outbreak of the First World War, joining the army and serving as captain in the east surrey regiment. It was this experience during his lifetime that enabled him to produce works such as "Journeys End", which was first performed for the first time in 1928, featuring famous actor Laurence Olivier as Stanhope. Sherriff was also renown for writing the screen plays "The Dam Busters" (1955) and "No Highway" (1950), to this day proving extremely successful. "Journey's End" is situated in a British dug out on the 18th March 1918. The dug out, being the only set through out the play, provides the claustrophobic and confined setting the soldiers experienced, but also helps in demonstrating the quick pace of the play. The script is orientated around main characters Stanhope and Raleigh, where the two friends from school are reunited. However, Stanhope shows little welcome, immediately starting tension within the scene. Nether the less, Raleigh, being younger and inexperienced with the war appears na�ve and oblivious to Stanhope's cold hearted greeting. Raleigh idolises Stanhope, looking up to him as a hero figure, yet Stanhope, who is become more heavily dependant on alcohol suspects Raleigh is aware of his drinking habit. ...read more.

Middle

Raleigh's refusal to give the letter continues to anger Stanhope until unexpectedly, 'Stanhope clutches Raleigh's wrist and tears the letter from his hand'. By doing so, Raleigh is almost stunned and addresses Stanhope by his first name. This could be done with the intention of reminding Stanhope that they were once school friends, and by using his first name it reminds the audience of what there relation was, and what it has now become. Sherriff may have also used the tearing of the letter as a metaphoric symbol to the break up of their friendship. A poignant climax is then seen on the last page of Act II scene 1, when Stanhope discovers Raleigh only wished to praise him. As the letter is read out by Osborne, the audience can visualise the change in Stanhope's attitude, from anger and resentment to guilt and regret. The stage direction 'Stanhope sits with a lowered head' sums up Stanhope's feelings with the idea of him being ashamed, and it is the first time within the play that we see another side to Stanhope. Sherriff concludes the scene with the final line 'The sun is shining quite brightly in the trench outside' which may be suggesting a positive change in their relationship. The suggestion of a positive change in relationship is continued in Act II Scene 2, when the Colonel arrives in the dug out to explain to Stanhope about the day light raid. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is in the final scene in Act III, where the relationship between Stanhope and Raleigh changes once more. When the German attack finally happens, Raleigh makes his way to the trenches with the warm goodbye "Cheero, Raleigh. I shall be coming up soon" from Stanhope, which suggests he is offering him with reassurance. However, several minutes after, Raleigh is hit by shrapnel from a shell, breaking his spine. It is then that we see true concern from Stanhope towards Raleigh when he shouts "Yes! Down here - quickly!" after the sergeant majors question "Down 'ere, sir?". Stanhope also expresses his worry for Raleigh when he demands two men with a stretcher to take him to hospital, when he may already be aware the chances of survival look bleak for Raleigh. In the short conversation between the two characters, Stanhope assists Raleigh in any way possible, renewing their friendship and making their relationship strongest at the very end. By doing so, Sherriff creates an emotional climax when Stanhope leaves the dug out, which shortly after collapses upon Raleigh. In conclusion, the relationship between Stanhope and Raleigh changed continuously through out the play. It was evident that Stanhope's anger was fuelled considerably with his drinking, and with the futility of war taking its toll. Raleigh's naivety also proved an annoyance for Stanhope, yet even when the characters relationship was at its weakest, Raleigh's idolism of Stanhope remained and Stanhope's school time memories and friendship returned at the very end. ...read more.

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