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Explain the ways in which R C Sherriff conveys a sense

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Explain the ways in which R C Sherriff conveys a sense of the horror of war in Journeys End with detailed reference to three extracts from the play. How could a director enhance this sense of horror on the stage? Iain MacCormick 10D 09.05.05 .............................................................................................. Set on the Western Front, 'Journey's End' is based on R C Sherriff's experiences as an Officer in the trenches of the First World War. It was the first war play to look at the reality of the day to day life of soldiers. Prior to 'Journey's End', plays either demonised the enemy, and focused on deeds of heroism, or preached the futility of war. This play was one of a number of literary works, produced about 10 years after the end of the war, which showed the horror of war by looking at the mens' day to day lives. These included 'Undertones of War' by Edmund Blunden, 'Goodbye to All That' by Robert Graves, 'All Quiet on The Western Front' by Remarque, 'Her Privates We' by Frederic Manning and 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer by Siegfried Sassoon. In a 'Journey's End', the horror of war is often shown in the subtext, of the soldiers conversations, not by the direct actions of the men. Although in the first instance it was rejected by theatre managers, the play went on to strike a chord with the public and had a two year run in London. They responded to the play because it showed them, for the first time, the fear and squalor that the men faced continually and how they dealt with it. ...read more.


He should stutter continually to let the audience, and Stanhope, see how desperate he is to leave the front. Stanhope 'You're going to stay here and do your job Hibbert, 'Haven't I told you? I can't! Don't you understand' In this section Stanhope confronts a man he considers to be a shirker, a soldier who is in his eyes trying to avoid the conflict. For the first time we see that Hibbert is not just looking for a way out but is so terrified that, mentally, he is falling apart. This piece raises a number of issues for the audience, about the conduct of the British officers in the war. Men were forced to tolerate conditions of continuous fear, often beyond their endurance and on top of it all senior officers executed mentally ill men, in order to keep discipline amongst their troops. When Stanhope throws accusations at Hibbert he should stand tall and speak clearly and firmly; in a military manner. He is trying to show Hibbert that he is not going to 'get away with it.' However at the beginning of the extract, the lines, "You're going to stay here and see it through with the rest of us," should be said with a degree of sympathy, to demonstrate that Stanhope understands that Hibbert, like everyone else, is afraid. Stanhope, 'Better die of pain than be shot for deserting'. Here Stanhope brings it home to Hibbert that he will not be allowed to leave and that if he does he will be considered a deserter. In a desperate panic Hibbert strikes Stanhope. This shows that Hibbert has lost all reason, as this is such a serious offence and demonstrates the dreadful impact of the war, on his emotional state. ...read more.


When he stops thinking about the raid the set should become silent so that their excited voices can fill the stage. The sound affects can reflect Raleigh's mood. Governments had to persuade large numbers of men that it was sensible for them to risk injury and death. The easiest way was to give them a high morale purpose, to argue that the enemy was evil and that it was the war to end all wars. The public greeted the outbreak of war with excitement, and so plays, book and poems mirrored this. The war lasted much longer and was bloodier than governments and soldiers had expected when it began. As the war progressed and the death count rose, writings questioned the morality of it. Journey's End, along with a number of other literary works, was the first to describe the reality of war, as it was written by men who were there. Sherriff looks at the nature of the daily lives of officers fighting in the trenches. The hardships and physical dangers are described in the play but you have to read between the lines to see the true horror of war; how the men confront the inevitability of death. Some turned to drink, to forget, whilst others tried to avoid the front line by inventing excuses. Throughout the play the audience gets to know the characters and their feelings. We understand what they are going through. The fact that they die in such pointless circumstances makes their deaths even more tragic. We know that this pointless sacrifice was commonplace in World War 1 but at the time it was considered cowardly to question orders or the political conduct of the war. Men did what they were told or they were shot. There was no way of avoiding their duty. ...read more.

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