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Do you have any sympathy at all for Hibbert? Give evidence for your opinion

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Journey's End igcse English Do you have any sympathy at all for Hibbert? Give evidence for your opinion It could be argued that the realistic way the horrors of life in a First World War trench are depicted in "Journey's End" leads us to feel sympathy for all the soldiers, including Hibbert, an officer in the company led by Stanhope. We see how soldiers had to deal with physical hardships like rationed food, rats, extreme discomfort and the emotional traumas of terror and almost inevitable death. The conditions they come to accept as ?normal? would strike anyone not accustomed to them as intolerable and Hibbert?s response, based on his instinct for self-preservation, may be seen as rational and in many ways understandable. However, his stance goes against the crucial military requirements of camaraderie and unity against the enemy and thus he loses the sympathy of the audience, even though he has, in all probability, been forced to go to war through conscription. I shall examine in this essay why it is possible to feel sympathy for Hibbert at the beginning of the play, but how this diminishes as more of his character is revealed. We first meet Hibbert towards the end of Act One. ...read more.


In Act Two, there is a crucial scene when Hibbert, faced with the prospect of the forthcoming battle breaks down emotionally and says he ?cannot stick it any longer?. I continued to feel sympathy because of his predicament: he has no control over his destiny. Stanhope has already had a word with the doctor to prevent him from sending Hibbert for treatment and the only escape appears to be death, but when Stanhope threatens to shoot him, Hibbert urges him to do so, "Go on, then, shoot! ... I'll never go into those trenches again. Shoot!" In Hibbert, R C Sherriff portrays how unbearable the war was for some soldiers: so bad that some preferred to die than live and fight there. Stanhope changes tactics and instead of threats, manipulates Hibbert into staying. ?Think of all the chaps who?ve gone already,? he says and ?It?s the only decent thing a man can do. Stanhope is a good psychologist. When Hibbert ?breaks down and cries? Stanhope ?turns away? because he understands Hibbert?s fear and what is likely to happen to them when the German attack begins. You?re never usually asked to empathise with cowards, but Sherriff makes it hard to ignore the genuine distress driving Hibbert?s behaviour. ...read more.


He is clearly drunk and when Trotter says that he has never seen Hibbert ?so cheerful out here? we understand that Hibbert?s form of escapism is to boast about female conquests and make himself appear more manly. It might be argued that Sherriff is revealing Hibbert?s true, unattractive character, but I interpret his boasts as being a way of covering his insecurity as a man and disguising his true fears; the bravado is his way of boosting his confidence, a misguided attempt to appear more heroic. It is a sign of his own insecurity too when he attempts to undermine Trotter?s praise of Raleigh?s ?pluck? after the raid with a ?Did you see him afterwards though...?? Hibbert is at his most unsympathetic towards the end of the play when he is stalling over leaving the dug-out to go and fight. Compared to the dignity and heroism shown by Raleigh and Osborne in particular he does appear feeble. ?There is no appalling hurry is there?? he asks after his colleagues have already left to do their duty.It is time to confront his demons and he intends to delay this for as long as possible. We do not admire him for it, but given what we have seen of the wasteful horror of war, it is easy to understand why he falters. ...read more.

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