Stanhope is a character in whom there is much to admire, but an equal amount to condemn. Discuss

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Stanhope is a character in whom there is much to admire, but an equal amount to condemn R.C sheriff effectively introduces Stanhope using the Hardy, Osbourne dialogue. This dialogue not only establishes that a major enemy offensive is imminent but also serves as a base point for Sheriff in developing Stanhope's character. The character of Stanhope is discussed, references made to his capacity of heavy drinking but also his line record as a company commander. Stanhope is not introduced personally but rather by an incompetent coworker who seems to touch upon the darkness of Stanhope's personality. The contrast between Hardy's and Osborn's thoughts of Stanhope as a company leader dramatically increases the suspense before the main character is eventually introduced to the readers. The Osbourne, Raleigh dialogue portrays further information on the character of Stanhope. It is established that at school Stanhope was a severe disciplinarian, being particularly hard on younger boys who smoked cigarettes and drunk whisky.


R.C Sheriff makes it seem inevitable that Osborne and Raleigh, 'the boy with everything to live for' should be doomed. Ironically this is contrasted with Stanhope who has survived luckily for years in the desperate hope of returning back home. Overcome with drink Stanhope resolves to censor any letters Raleigh may have written. Exhausted Stanhope retires to bed and in an unguarded moment when he asks Osbourne to 'tuck him into bed and kiss him goodnight', he is revealed as a young boy seeking a parent's reassurance. In Act 2 Stanhope believes that Raleigh will indicate him of being a drunk, coward and a failure. This is all in his head, he is paranoid and suspicious because he realizes his weaknesses and that he is not the man he thought he was. Seeing Raleigh reminds Stanhope of his old self image where he was strong and courageous but the dramatic effects of war have made him question his strength as an individual.


What on earth should I do without you?' In act 2 when Stanhope confronts Hibbert, Sheriff develops Stanhope's character further by creating various elements of suspense and dramatic tension 'I swear I'll never go in those trenches again! Shoot!' When Stanhope doesn't shoot the reader again sees the understanding and compassionate side of Stanhope's character. This scene also displays Stanhope's effectiveness as a leader as he is able to persuade Hibbert back to the front line. The true nature of Stanhope's character is expertly conveyed to the reader by Sheriff. The relationship between Stanhope and Raleigh is shown through the understanding and compassionate side of Stanhope. 'Sure! I'll bring a candle and get another blanket' this is important as it concludes the reader's judgment of Stanhope which has been building up through out the play. In conclusion I think Stanhope's character is displayed very effectively by Sheriff. The contrast between Stanhope's 'dark' side and his rather more appealing compassionate side is displayed by Sheriff in a number of subtle ways which I think is the key to the development of Stanhope's character.

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