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Before his arrival, the scene is set and we are prepared for Stanhope. How does Sheriff do this?

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Before his arrival, the scene is set and we are prepared for Stanhope. How does Sheriff do this? The first thing that the reader notices is the stage directions at the beginning of the play. This sets the scene and we are prepared as to what is going to happen later on in the play. It hints that the majority of the play will take place in a small, claustrophobic, enclosed area. This hints that the soldiers are bored in the mundane trench. The room, which we see, is dark and gloomy with several lighted candles. These lighted candles signify that for the men during the war the night merges with the day and therefore the men's behavioural patterns are irregular. A calendar is situated upon one of the bare walls and it symbolises how slowly the time passes for the men who are entrapped within the trench. ...read more.


We notice this when he talks in a relaxed manner and tells Osborne to 'Have a drink'. This shows how the men involved in the war have to cope and have to get on with their lives. During the conversation between them they introduce the points about the war that were unheard of by the general population back in England. 'Mustn't hang you legs too low, or the rats will gnaw your boots.' The next thing that we learn about is about Stanhope. We learn that the war has been a big strain on him and whilst other soldiers come and 'go home again ill, young Stanhope goes on sticking it, month in month out.' From the two officers, Osborne and Hardy we get our first two impressions of Stanhope which look at Stanhope's attributes from basically opposite directions. Hardy believes that Stanhope is a 'drunkard' and doubts his abilities to look after the company, instead he believes that Osborne the older soldier should be commanding them; 'Osborne, you ought to be commanding this company.' ...read more.


As Raleigh enters the trench we get the home view of Stanhope, which is the view of Stanhope before he was changed dramatically by the war. The conversation that occurs between Raleigh and Osborne during the next few pages shows the changes that Stanhope has undertaken during his command. Raleigh describes how Stanhope used to be against smoking and drinking whilst he was at school, and we discover that Stanhope is Raleigh's idol or role model, however, Osborne tries to let Raleigh know that Stanhope is not like that anymore, but Raleigh ignores this and carries on talking about how Stanhope was engaged to his sister. Sheriff has used stage directions and characters to set the scene and to describe Stanhope in a minimalist fashion. The characters like Hardy are not needed for the main story, however they play an important role in suggesting the atmosphere that other people create and how other people react to the alien situation that they are placed in during the war. ...read more.

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