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Explore the ways in which Sherriff makes this such a dramatic opening and introduces some of the main issues of the play.

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Example answer Explore the ways in which Sherriff makes this such a dramatic opening and introduces some of the main issues of the play. Sherriff creates a dramatic opening through his use of language, themes, motifs, character portrayal and irony, building tension and suspense through the use of metaphor, similes and dramatic irony. Sherriff uses stage directions to set the scene, introducing a romantic tone through the use of moonlight and candle light; ?A pale glimmer of moonlight shines down?Warm yellow candle-flames light the other corner?. The way Sherriff uses light in this way ironically juxtaposes this romantic tone with the real horrors of trench life explored as the scene progresses. We learn of Hardy?s need to dry his sock over a candle flame due to the lack of heating in the dug-out. We know that it was dangerous for soldiers to wear wet clothing due to the treat of trench-foot; a condition brought about by the skin on their feet not having the chance to dry off. ...read more.


We can see here that trench life is far from romantic, making Sherriff’s initial romantic description dramatically ironic and deceptive for the audience as they journey through the lives of the men they meet. Despite the “litter of papers” and the “jumbled” mess of the trench, we meet the character of Hardy who is described by Sherriff by the adjectives “cheerful-looking” and “lively”. This creates, again, a contrast to the horrors of wartime life that the audience witness later in the play. Hardy is also used by sheriff to provide a direct comparison to the character of Osborne. The latter is introduced with the simile “physically as hard as nails” and characterised by the metaphor “close-cropped iron-grey hair”. This, along with his one-line replies to Hardy’s blasé babblings, gives Osborne an air of superiority. He replies sarcastically when Hardy tells him of the earlier attack on the trench where the men’s tea was ruined by falling dirt, humouring Hardy with “I know. ...read more.


Osborne?s professional response to this information ends the extract with the necessity of handing over responsibility of commanding the troop and the romantic tone of the beginning of the scene has diminished. Sherriff uses many techniques to create dramatic effect within this scene. In order to do this effectively he uses light to set a romantic tone and mood at the beginning of the scene which is dissipated throughout as the audience becomes aware of the terrible conditions that the soldiers are constantly living in, both internally and externally. He, thus, introduces the theme of the horrors of trench life. He uses dramatic irony to contrast the characters of Hardy and Osborne, which, in turn, involves the reader in the morbid reality of war, overshadowing the comic introduction of Hardy with the seriousness of the subject through the sober Osborne. The techniques Sherriff uses here run throughout the play, contrasting the tragic lives of the soldiers with both comedy and sensitivity. ...read more.

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