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Explain how much of the emotion in the play comes from the relationship between Raleigh and Stanhope, both of whom have the sympathy of the audience. What makes the barrier between them so poignant and how is it removed at the end?

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Introduction

Explain how much of the emotion in the play comes from the relationship between Raleigh and Stanhope, both of whom have the sympathy of the audience. What makes the barrier between them so poignant and how is it removed at the end? Before the war, Raleigh and Stanhope had a strong relationship. Their families were friends, and Stanhope found a love interest in Raleigh's sister. We learn that they were good friends when early on in the play Raleigh says to Osborne: 'Our fathers were friends and Dennis used to come and stay with us in the holidays. Of course, at school I didn't see much of him, but in the holidays we were terrific pals.' The last time Raleigh saw Stanhope before the war was when Stanhope won a Military - Cross, awarded to him for bravery. Stanhope was giving a talk to his old school, the same school that Raleigh attended. It was after this talk when Raleigh decided to enrol for the war. He pulled strings to get himself into the same company as Stanhope. Raleigh was able to do this because he had an uncle, who was the person in charge of sending different people to different companies. This is why he appears to be so excited about the war, because he is reunited with his close friend and role model Stanhope. He expresses his enthusiasm towards Stanhope when he says: 'I'm awfully glad I got to your company, Stanhope.' ...read more.

Middle

Despite being a good officer, he is a changed man to what he was before the war began. His father is the vicar of the small town in which he lived. He was known before for how he would not tolerate people drinking alcohol, this is shown when Raleigh talks about how Stanhope to Osborne early on in the play: "I remember once at school he caught some chaps in a study with a bottle of whisky... He gave them a dozen each with a cricket stump." Now however he himself is a heavy drinker, and this information can get back to his hometown via letters from Raleigh. Therefore Stanhope is scared of being exposed and bringing shame to his family and to the woman he loves (Raleigh's sister). Here he expresses his fear to Osborne, about what Raleigh may do: "You know he'll write and tell her that I reek of whisky all day". This fear of exposure is what is making Stanhope negative towards Raleigh's presence. He knows he has a problem and that he will never be accepted back into his town if he is exposed, because the people there will not understand his problems, and that is why he has the sympathy of the audience. He admits his weakness to Osborne by saying: "There were only two ways of breaking the strain. One was pretending I was ill - and going home; the other was this. ...read more.

Conclusion

It can be seen that Stanhope is actually trying to protect Raleigh but because he is unable he does not get too close to him. This barrier is broken down at the very end of the play, when Raleigh is hit during the attack by the Germans. It is Stanhope who breaks down all of the barriers, the same barriers that Raleigh has been seen trying to remove. They start using each other's first names again because it has finally become apparent to Stanhope that Raleigh is dying, and cannot send home any information. Therefore Stanhope is willing to be friends with Raleigh, as he wants them to leave each other on good terms. This is from when Stanhope breaks down the barriers that he initially set: "It's quite all right Jimmy". Therefore I can conclude that almost all of the emotion in the play comes from the relationship between Raleigh and Stanhope. The deaths of the other officers seem irrelevant when the play is finished, because of the tragedy, which is Raleigh's death. Raleigh's death is more tragic than most because he came to have a good time but he was miss-treated until the very end when all was made up, and he was also very young with many ambitions and didn't realise what he was letting himself in for by joining the war. The emotion also comes from the barrier set up by Stanhope because the audience can sense a tragic ending but do not want it to take place. Bhavesh Dhulashia ...read more.

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