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How does Sherriff develop our understanding of Stanhope in Act One

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Introduction

How does Sherriff develop our understanding of Stanhope in Act One? Introduction Stanhope is considered by the men to be 'the best company commander [they've] got.' However under the pressure of the Great War, Stanhope has changed into a different man, and has turned to drinking alcohol to take away the fear and pain of War. At the beginning of the play, Sherriff chooses not to introduce the audience to Stanhope. Instead, the audience builds their own picture of Stanhope through the differing views of the men in his company. Hardy's strong description of Stanhope, forces the viewer to build a picture of 'a freak show exhibit.' However, this view is opposed by Osborne, who argues that '[Stanhope's] experience alone make him worth a dozen men.' ...read more.

Middle

Drinking like a fish as usual?' - Hardy [Page 4] 'He's a long way the best company commander we've got.' - Osborne [Page 4] 'When a boy like Stanhope gets a reputation out here for drinking, he turns into a kind of freak show exhibit.' - Osborne [Page 5] 'Young Stanhope goes on sticking it, month in, month out.' - Osborne [Page 6] 'There isn't a man to touch him as commander of the men.' - Osborne [Page 6] 'He's so fussy about the trenches.' - Hardy [Page 7] 'He was skipper of Rugger... and kept wicket for the eleven. A jolly good bat, too.' - Raleigh [Page 11] 'You mustn't expect to find him - quite the same.' - Osborne [Page 13] 'It's a big strain on a man.' ...read more.

Conclusion

Hardy's description appears to be correct at first, when Stanhope enters; his first words being 'Damn the soup, bring some whisky.' He uses the drink to escape from the problems of war around him. The 'quick-temper' that Osborne described is also shown to the audience in this part of the scene. Most of Osborne's descriptions are also correct. He says to Raleigh that 'you mustn't expect to find him the same,' and Raleigh's memories of school demonstrate this. Raleigh tells of the old Stanhope that 'was frightfully down on smoking,' and that once he had caught some pupils with a bottle of Whisky. Their punishment for this was 'a dozen each with a cricket stump.' Though Stanhope drinks regularly, he is held in very high regard by the men and it is clear that they believe that 'there isn't a man to touch him as commander of the men.' ...read more.

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