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Journey's End

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"Journey's End" by R.C. Sherriff In his play, "Journey's End", R.C. Sherriff shows not only the brutal effects of the war, but the effects of the eminent conflict and tension between characters throughout the play. Clever stage directions, dialogue and characterisation help the playwright to achieve this. The play focuses on the relationships between the characters, and the heavy toll which war takes on them. We learn that several of the conflicts are resolved as the play progresses, however. The play is set in a dug-out in France during the First World War, and the characters which we see are officers of Company "A", which is commanded by Stanhope. One area of obvious conflict in the play is between the two main characters, Stanhope and Raleigh. Stanhope is commander of the company, and a highly respected man, although he is just twenty-one. Raleigh is a new officer, and is excited to be joining Stanhope's company, as they were good friends at school. However, Stanhope is shocked at Raleigh's arrival and does not greet him in a welcoming manner. When Raleigh is introduced to Stanhope, he is bewildered. The stage directions read: "Stanhope stares at Raleigh as though dazed." He also speaks "in a low voice", which shows he is uncomfortable in Raleigh's presence. We learn the reason for Stanhope's dismay at Raleigh's arrival later in the scene, as he speaks of his and Raleigh's sister's "unofficial engagement" to Osborne, a senior officer who Stanhope has a firm relationship with. ...read more.


He is grieving silently, and when Raleigh interrupts with "but how can you when -?", Stanhope's response is that of anger and he shows this with repetition of his reasons: "To forget, you little fool - to forget! D'you understand? To forget! You think there's no limit to what a man can bear?" The scene ends icily as Raleigh and Stanhope's emotions clash, and it seems as if their clashing personalities will prevent them resolving their problems, but conflict is resolved between Stanhope and Raleigh in the final scene of the play. Raleigh is wounded from the attack and Stanhope sits with him. As they chat, they call each other by their first names and seem like old friends again. Stanhope makes a genuine effort to make Raleigh comfortably, and says "it's not your fault, Jimmy". We see a much kinder side of Stanhope here, as he cares for Raleigh and tends to his needs. The scene ends as Raleigh asks for a light, but Stanhope returns to a lifeless Raleigh and the rumbling of the guns still resounds outside. Raleigh's death comes shortly after we see the conflict between them resolved. Another area where conflict arises in the play is between Stanhope and Hibbert. Hibbert claims to have neuralgia, but Stanhope is reluctant to believe him. ...read more.


He also has a very close relationship with Osborne throughout the play, and during one of their talks he says asks if he is going mad, and if "this life sharpens the imagination". Stanhope says: "Whenever I look at anything nowadays I see right through it". He can't understand what he is seeing anymore, and this frightens him as he thinks he is going insane. Stanhope feels that he needs to drink or he couldn't cope with the war. He says: "If I went up those steps into the front line - without being doped with whisky - I'd go mad with fright". He is shielding his fright with alcohol because he doesn't want others to see his vulnerability. I think Stanhope's internal conflict is important to the play because it portrays the difficulties men were faced with, and how they coped with these difficulties. Stanhope's internal conflict is essentially resolved by the end of the play with his death. Throughout the play, Sherriff successfully portrays the conflict and tension which arises between the characters. The play also helped me better comprehend how difficult it would have been for the men and what emotional stress they had to deal with. The stage directions, dialogue and characterisation used by the playwright also contributed to the way the relationships between the characters were portrayed. By the end of the play, we see that most conflict has been resolved, alongside the deaths of many key characters. ...read more.

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