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In what ways and for what reasons do the attitudes of Bamforth and Macleish towards the Japanese prisoner change during the course of the play? How are these attitudes shown through language and action, and

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Introduction

In what ways and for what reasons do the attitudes of Bamforth and Macleish towards the Japanese prisoner change during the course of the play? How are these attitudes shown through language and action, and how might they be brought out in a production through stage action and gesture? The attitudes of Bamforth and Macleish towards the prisoner change considerably throughout the play. Usually the attitude will change from one extreme to another at a certain point in the play which triggers this change in perspective of the prisoner. The language and action of the characters represent the change in attitude with some obvious but also some subtle lines of the play, usually resulting in the building of tension. Willis Hall, the playwright, shows these changes in characters to show how people's attitudes to war, and general morality, and how it can change due to a certain action in a person's life. The time in the hut reveals each characters true colours. The Long and the Short and the Tall is set during the Second World War in December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and a series of Japanese naval victories.The play itself is about the actions of a patrol of English soldiers in an abandoned hut in the Malayan Jungle. Bamforth shows the largest and most obvious change in attitude throughout the play. In the first act of the play when the Japanese prisoner has not been introduced to the audience Bamforth comes across as an arrogant, egotistic character. ...read more.

Middle

' I gave him the fags!' Bamforth also defends the prisoner when Mitchem reveals that they are going to kill him as he costs them time. 'You said he was going back.. what's the poor get done to us?' Bamforth defends the prisoner and tries to get the rest of the patrol to agree to take him back with them. He does this as he has befriended the prisoner and he also feels sorry for his earlier actions in the play, where he mistreated the prisoner. Bamforth's attitude change can be seen very clearly now when he reveals the lines 'He's a man!' This tells the audience that Bamforth now views the prisoner as a human and gives him human qualities whereas before when he was just comparing killing the prisoner to carving a piece of meat, thus treating the prisoner as an animal. If this scene were to be acted out, Bamforth would be right up to Mitchem when he questions why the prisoner is not coming back to camp and would be speaking in a very loud voice. His face would portray a very angry look, and almost a hint of disbelief and disappointment as he realises Mitchem has lied to him. Bamforth's final action which portrays his view of the prisoner is when he asks the troop to take sides in the discussion about whether they take the prisoner or leave him. 'So come on Whitaker! Don't sit there, lad. Whose side you on?' ...read more.

Conclusion

Towards the end of the play, Macleish turns on the prisoner and by the end of the play, when each patrol member is taking sides he cannot make up his mind. His behaviour towards the prisoner fluctuates throughout the play and at the very end he gives up on making decisions altogether - "he continues to stare out of the window" when Bamforth pleads with him to help. Willis Hall includes Macleish's differing opinions to the prisoner because Macleish best embodies the moral confusion of war and the individuals willingness to confront it. He illustrates how 'normal' untrained men struggle to come to terms with their environment and situation - Macleish should be seen as an 'everyman'. The play itself was written to show how attitudes of men can change in certain situations. The characters are not just meant to represent one persons view on war but a whole category of men. Bamforth represents the voice of the humane soldier who embraces his environment and makes decisions in certain situations. Macleish is the voice of the conscripted character who ignores the situation he finds himself in as he does not genuinely want to be there - he has to. The play shows how the attitudes can change. Bamforth is originally the voice of the reluctant soldier, but by the end of the play becomes that of the voice of humanity. Macleish starts of as the voice of humanity, in a way, and ends up as that of reluctance. The prisoner is the key element to changing their perspective on war, which shows just how much influence one element can have on a person's perspective of life. ?? ?? ?? ?? Lewis Hayes 10SM ...read more.

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