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"Journey's End" by R.C. Sherriff - A dramatic analysis of Act three, Scene one, showing how R.C Sherriff brings the raid to life and conveys the horror of war, despite the limitations of the stage.

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Introduction

"Journey's End" by R.C. Sherriff: A dramatic analysis of Act three, Scene one, showing how R.C Sherriff brings the raid to life and conveys the horror of war, despite the limitations of the stage. The author of the play R.C Sherriff, was an officer in the First World War. The play is based upon his real life experiences. He wrote several other plays, but it is for "Journey's End" that he is best remembered. The play shows the horrific conditions in the trenches. It also shows the class divide between the officers and the men. The scene is set in a dugout in the British trenches before St. Quentin. It is the 20th March 1918. Seven months before the end of the First World War. The dugout is bare and gloomy with make shift seats, a bed and a large table. The walls are of bare earth with a few pictures of girls pinned to them. There are candles burning and faint sound of the war. The front line is only fifty yards away. Act three, scene one, begins with Stanhope, the commanding officer, pacing up and down. It is dusk and a glow from the setting sun focuses the audience's attention solely on him. His mood is agitated and anxious. Two officers, Osbourne and Raleigh and ten other men are to go over the top of the trench to find out what is happening on the German's front line. ...read more.

Middle

They decide to have one last look at the map and go through their final plans. Suddenly Raleigh loses his courage. He says, "Oh Lord, I can't." Osbourne states, "You must!" Raleigh reverts to his public school outlook. He shows his youth and inexperience, "How topping if we both get the M.C.!" The conversation continues in a meaningless way. Osbourne trying to keep the conversation away from the raid, but Raleigh wants to talk about it. He is starting to think about how badly the Boche will shell them as they cross no-mans land. Osbourne starts to quote poetry to take Raleigh's mind off things. Osbourne shows how much more mature he is than Raleigh in this scene. They touch on thoughts of home, places they both know. They make a tentative plans to visit each other after the war, each describing places they know and love. The time passes slowly. Osbourne looks at his watch. Two minutes to go. Raleigh notices Osbourne's ring on the table. The lighting at this point should pick out Raleigh as he realises that Osbourne does not really expect to return. There is an uncomfortable silence. Osbourne then tries to prepare himself. They hang a lanyard round their necks to hold their revolvers. The feel of the weapon gives them a sense of security. They put on their helmets. Osbourne looks back at his still lighted pipe with reluctance. ...read more.

Conclusion

He answers the colonel's question with another question. Stanhope then informs the colonel of Osbourne's death. The colonel says, "I'm very sorry, poor Osbourne!" Stanhope then replies, "Still, it'll be awfully nice if the Brigadiers pleased." Stanhope and the colonel are uneasy with each other. Raleigh comes slowly down the steps, walking as if he were asleep. The colonel turns to the boy with enthusiasm, "Well done, my boy. I'll get you a military cross for this! Splendid!" it is almost as if the colonel is trying to forget about Osbourne already. The youth factor of Raleigh is portrayed again in this part of the play. He is always referred to as 'boy'. Raleigh went over the top a na�ve schoolboy and he came back a disillusioned man. Raleigh sits on the edge of Osbourne's bed, just like he's on automatic pilot. There is a silence in the trench outside. This could be a silence for no more raid, no more Osbourne. It is a respectful silence. This silence also builds up the tension and suspense. There is a dominant sense of loss in the room. Stanhope sits staring at the table where Osbourne left his watch and ring. Stanhope and Raleigh's eyes meet. Stanhope speaks, his voice expressionless and dead, "Must you sit on Osbourne's bed?" Stanhope has lost a good friend, the person he used to trust. His confidant. Raleigh, in his solitary position, rises unsteadily and murmurs, "Sorry." The scene finishes with the stage directions, "Heavy guns are booming miles away." This emphasises the fact that the war is happening wider than this. Everything still happens. ...read more.

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