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Journey's End - How do the key scenes present a dramatic demonstration of R.C Sherriff(TM)s views on comradeship and heroism in World War One?

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Introduction

"Journeys End" by R.C Sherriff 20th century Drama Coursework Literature How do these key scenes present a dramatic demonstration of R.C Sherriff's views on comradeship and heroism in World War One? In 1928, ten years after the ceasefire of World War One, dubbed as "the war to end all wars", the author R.C Sherriff wrote his most famous play "Journeys End" which reflected his personal experience in the involvement as an officer in the battles of Ypres. The play is set in the British dugout in St Quentin, Northern France. R.C Sherriff shows that war isn't at all glorious and splendid as the press made it out to be, and that it is in fact careless, unnecessary and violent. The first scene that I have chosen to support my answer with is in act 3, page 78, from the Colonel saying "all right sergeant major" until the end of the scene. This extract contains a dialogue between the Colonel, Raleigh, Stanhope and Sergeant-Major. As soon as this key scene begins, the Colonel shows the sense of authority and respect between him and the enemy German Prisoner. The German's actions at the end of his interrogation ('the German boy, calm now, bows stiffly to the Colonel and goes away'.) shows that the soldiers don't really want to fight with each other and that comradeship and heroism is found often in both sides of the war. The Colonel is clearly very pleased with the capture of the German boy as he mutters "splendid" to himself whilst reading through the Germans paybook and he also compliments Stanhope on his performance even though he had nothing to do with the German soldiers capture. Stanhope is appalled by the way the Colonel is happy without even discussing events with him; "Stanhope has given one look of astonishment at the Colonel and strolled past him. He turns at the table and speaks in a dead voice." ...read more.

Middle

Raleigh was probably thinking of what he should do and if he should be submissive towards Stanhope. Raleigh apologizes for offending Trotter and Hibbert but still does not realize the effect that Osborne's death has had on Stanhope as we can see in the line, "his hand trembles so violently that he can scarcely take the cigar between his teeth" This may also be because of the fact that he is angry, but this also shows his depression, that he cannot cope without Osborne. When Raleigh is caught staring at Stanhope he shows that he is horrified at the way Stanhope has changed after the loss of his companions. Stanhope then continues his fury by murmuring "What are you looking at?" Stanhope must be furious if he asks that he is not allowed to have eye contact by Raleigh, this proves that Stanhope is clearly the dominant character in this argument. Raleigh remains defeated and defenceless as he lowers his head and sighs "Nothing." But he is hiding his feelings from Stanhope and doesn't hold it for much longer, Raleigh is pretty much underestimating the situation here because he still treats Stanhope as he would have done before the war. When Raleigh blurts out his feelings, "I'm awfully sorry, Dennis, if - if I annoyed you by coming to your company" Stanhope is taken aback by this, he doesn't know how to respond and ends up saying that he is a 'damn fool', Stanhope is put on the spot as Raleigh is right because as soon as Raleigh joined Stanhope, he never wanted him in his company because he was frightened about his partner finding out about his drink problem which may be suggested that Stanhope isn't a great hero. Raleigh still doesn't understand the anger of Stanhope as he declines an order to eat his dinner, "I'm not hungry, thanks." This upsets Stanhope a great deal more than he already was. ...read more.

Conclusion

Stanhope goes to get Raleigh a candlelight, but when he returns he finds that Raleigh is not responding, Stanhope, who assumes that Raleigh is dead, is feeling shocked. Outside of the dugout, you can hear the opposition causing more mayhem than before. Stanhope's time with Raleigh is almost over, as a private soldier comes rushing in and asks if he can come urgently for Trotter. Stanhope's silenced astonishment with Raleigh means that he waits to hear a second time to hear the order. His last contact with Raleigh is giving his hair a tussle, this symbolizes that Stanhope has always cared for Raleigh and looks at him as a member of his family. Stanhope the walks slowly to his duty, which shows how heroic Stanhope is when it comes to doing his job away leaving Raleigh and the candlelight. Shells hit the dugout and it caves in, stabbing out the candlelight which R.C Sherriff used to represent the devastating death of Raleigh and the abrupt end to the play. The last sentence 'Very faintly there comes the dull rattle of machine guns and the fevered spatter of rifle fire' is very important because it shows you that the war carries on even after the end of the play, and that there were thousands of places just like this. In conclusion I feel R.C Sherriff wanted to dispel the myths surrounding World War One, so that everyone would understand what really happened and how the officers and soldiers really felt and how their relationships developed. Sherriff showed that to fight in a war, you have to be mentally strong and prepared. After the 'war to end all wars' there was a bad time in the country where people were soon suspicious about the soldiers of the war and if it was really necessary for all of those men to die, Sherriff wanted people to believe that every man did their duty and died heroically. The way Sherriff constructs this to fit into a play is masterful and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book. ...read more.

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