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In 'Journey's End', R. C. Sherriff presents a highly convincing and effective picture of the horrors of life in the trenches in World War 1.

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Introduction

In 'Journey's End', R. C. Sherriff presents a highly convincing and effective picture of the horrors of life in the trenches in World War 1. Contents: Introduction: An introduction to R.C.Sherriff and to World War 1 and what life was really like in the trenches. About 'Journey's End': Information as to where, when and why Journey's End was first produced on stage, and who played the characters in the original. Differences between the original 'Journey's End' and the 1995 BBC production: Finding differences with the original play and the 1995 BBC production and exploring how different effects would have been created, and whether there are any script / stage direction differences between the two. The message of 'Journey's End': Finding how R.C.Sherriff intended us to interpret 'Journey's End' and what he meant the play to mean. Bibliography Introduction: The First World War was a time of trauma and devastation. Many lives were lost, and in his play, 'Journey's End', R.C.Sherriff tries to effectively portray the havoc that World War I wreaked. R.C.Sherriff Robert Cedric Sherriff was born in 1896 and was educated at Kingston Grammar School primarily, until he moved to New College, Oxford. After completing his education, R.C.Sherriff entered his fathers insurance business. Shortly after the outbreak of the war, R.C.Sherriff joined the British army as a captain in the East Surrey regiment. To be a captain, you must attend a public school. The first time R.C.Sherriff applied for enlistment in the army as a captain, he was refused, for his school was not on the list of acceptable public schools, however, when people started to die, and captains were becoming scarce, R.C.Sherriff was accepted into the role of captain. During the war, R.C.Sherriff made himself a book of 'memoirs' about his life in the trenches. These memoirs eventually (about eight years later) became the basis for R.C.Sherriff's first play, 'Journey's End'. ...read more.

Middle

Raleigh is a relatively new officer and is rather excited about being picked to make the raid, so talks about nothing but the raid. Osborne is a more experienced officer and is trying to avoid talking about the raid as we can see when he goes off on a different subject at every available opportunity. In the end he starts reciting Lewis Carroll's poem 'The Walrus said'. On the line of: 'and whether pigs have wings', Osborne says 'we're off, lets talk about pigs'. This shows how much he wants to avoid talking about the war. The officers also talk about their homes, and what they would do if they were there. When talking about their homes, the officers never talk about them in a bad way, because they would much prefer to be at home, than fighting the war, however they are unable to be at home with loved ones, so the men talk about their homes and pretend and wish that they were there. Another subject that the men tried to avoid was death. This was so they were not afraid of seeing people killed, knowing that their turn would come soon enough. When someone had died, instead of confronting the issue, the officers would tell the men that the dead person had 'gone west'. The reason that the officers said this was so the men were not too scared to go over the parapet of the trench into no-mans land, when it was time for them to make an attack. The trenches were not the cleanest places for the men or officers to be. This is portrayed when Trotter says, "have your revolver to shoot rats", showing that the dugout and trenches have rats in them, and rats like to live in dirty places. It would have been difficult for R. C. Sherriff to show this on stage, because the director could not have had live rats running about on stage, but he may have had squeaking and scuffling on a soundtrack in the background. ...read more.

Conclusion

The way in which Sherriff does this is by building up a kind of relationship between us and the characters, and then at the end of the play, all the characters we get to know throughout the play, get killed. The characters seem to know that this is going to happen to them, so to keep themselves sane, they use black humour about other people that died, for instance on page 10, Osborne and Hardy are talking about a dugout that was blown up and collapsed on the men. Hardy is saying that the men were very annoyed at getting dirt in their tea, however the dugout collapsing would have killed the men. Osborne acknowledges this by saying that there is nothing worse than having dirt in your tea. In World War 1, black humour like this would be common between the officers, for two reasons. 1: In the officers' opinion, the standard soldier was a lower class than himself, and it did not matter if he died, it was only a soldier, and it was fine to use soldiers who had died in 'jokes'. 2: The black humour helped the officers to keep sane and stop them going mad with fear of death. He also avoids talking about the war throughout the book, so it shows that there is so much fear inside the characters, that they are scared of the thought of that fear. In my opinion 'Journey's End' is a good play with a simple meaning, 'no good comes out of war'. With this play, Sherriff managed to help fuel the peace movement, to minimise violence. Unfortunately, World War 2 started, killing many people, however after Germany's second downfall, the peace movement managed to help raise Germany to the country she is today. We have a lot to thank R.C.Sherriff for, not only did he write us many great plays, and screenplays, he also fuelled the peace movement so that violence on a world scale like in the World Wars, is highly unlikely today. ...read more.

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