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The Long & The Short & The Tall

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Introduction

THE LONG, THE SHORT AND THE TALL ESSAY "The Long, the Short and the Tall" is a play written by Willis Hall in 1958. They play tells the story of a patrol of volunteer soldiers in the British army, fighting in the Malayan jungle. The soldiers are of very different backgrounds but somehow come together in the patrol and unite. They are willing and ready to fight for their country at first, until they experience true wartime life when they come across a lone Japanese soldier wandering in the woods. The Japanese soldier is captured and, through no fault of his own as he can do nothing, is the patrol's eventual downfall. The author, Willis Hall, tries to show the effects of war on the average person whilst also arguing a case for the use of war, as a last resort. He also shows how inexperience in wars, by drafting in volunteers who are deemed expendable, can and often does lead to disaster. Throughout the play Hall develops the characters of the soldiers strongly in unexpected and sometimes surprising ways. The development is thorough however and it strengthens the argue that anyone personality can change drastically in time of war. ...read more.

Middle

This becomes evident when he feels it is his duty to protect the Japanese soldier when the rest are more concerned in getting back to camp safely, even if this means the man must die. Bamforth is shrouded in controversy which adds a mysterious, even eerie, sense to his presence. At some points he is calm, steady, willing to be involved and encouraging, more humane than the rest of the patrol. The audience feel natural sympathy towards such a difficult man during these times. At others though, he is the complete opposite; aggressive, snappy, racist and argumentative. He even resorts to violence against his own allies to get his own way. The audience find it near-impossible to find sympathy for him when this attitude occurs. He clearly holds no respect for the hierarchy of the British Army, regularly cursing those who are ranked higher than him and showing resentment to his and other's ranking stripes. Towards the final few scenes Bamforth seems to change dramatically, become arguably the most likeable member of the patrol. This change in character seems sudden to the audience but in actual fact Willis Hall subtly builds it up as the play wears on. ...read more.

Conclusion

Each member of the patrol portrays their full features when faced with difficulty or a challenge; often a matter of life or death. Each troop has a completely different personality, and so when all these contrasting types of people are thrown in together, reactions will inevitably be different. Mitchem is the strong and imposing figure, the man who's one priority is to bring his fellow troops to safety. He is courageous and just, even when dealing with the enemy. Whitaker on the hand is the complete opposite of this. He is nervous and quiet and lacks any authority amongst the patrol. When finally given some responsibility, he ends up costing the men their lives. Similarly, MacLeish and Bamforth have contrasting personalities. MacLeish has a good heart, but his authority amongst the men when left in charge for a short while is not strong enough. Bamforth seems to be an argumentative and arrogant soldier, willing to pick a fight with anyone. Through Hall's dramatic incident, he is later seen as the most humane member of the patrol, even risking his life to spare an "innocent" man. The main focus in the revelations of personalities in all the men is the arrival of the Japanese prisoner. Willis Hall allows this one change to the structure of the patrol to expose all the men's contrasting characteristics. ?? ?? ?? ?? 30/10/06 ...read more.

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