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Which of the dramatic technique used by R.C Sheriff in Journey's End do you think are most effective in getting across his message that war is futile?

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Introduction

Which of the dramatic technique used by R.C Sheriff in Journey's End do you think are most effective in getting across his message that war is futile? 'Journey's End' is set in the front line trenches of World War I. The play begins on the evening of Monday, 18th March 1918. The war is nearing an end (the First World War started in 1914 and finished in 1918). Hardy, an officer in another company, is preparing to hand over the dug out to the infantry company taking over. Hardy jokes with Osborne, one of the new officers, about the conditions of the trenches saying; "Hardy: "....A dug-out got blown up and came down in the men's tea. They were frightfully annoyed". "Osborne: "I know. There's nothing worse than dirt in your tea". The men tell jokes through out the play so they can hide their fear of war. Sheriff is showing that war isn't glamorous, it's a terrible event where people die. Hardy gives us our first picture of the commander of the new infantry company taking over the dug out. He describes Stanhope's drinking and the effect it has on his behaviour. Osborne quickly defends Stanhope. Before Hardy leaves, he describes how he and his men pass their time by racing earwigs, and reminds Osborne about the big attack. ...read more.

Middle

Sheriff uses this to tell the audience that war can change anyone, even a man as brave as Stanhope. Later on Stanhope again admits that without alcohol he'd go mad. As the Act comes to an end, he falls asleep. "....Dear old uncle. Tuck me up...." Stanhope is reverting to boyhood, trying to drift away from the horror of war in tired, drunken sleep. In Act 2, Scene 1, it's early in the morning of the 2nd day. Sheriff uses bitter humour to remind us of how desperate the men are; they cling to trivial things to avoid the horror of war. Trotter talks about his garden to Osborne. We're reminded that the war has destroyed the ordinary but pleasant lives that the men once knew. This supports the fact that war is futile. Now Trotter tells Osborne of a strange smell he'd experienced recently: "....All of a sudden we smelt that funny, sweet smell, and a fellow shouted 'GAS!'-and we put on our masks." Tragically, they had been frightened by what turned out to be the scent of a may tree. This reminds us that the war has taken the goodness out of nature; the men are too traumatised to enjoy Natures simple pleasures. Osborne tells Raleigh about his sporting past but tells Raleigh not to tell the others because: "it doesn't make much difference out here!" ...read more.

Conclusion

Instead of preparing food for the officers, Mason is told to rejoin his platoon but still finds time to make sandwiches for them. These trivial things are the last symbols of the normal ordinary life that war has taken away from these men. Hibbert tries to waste time but Stanhope tells Mason to escort Hibbert out of the dug out. Mason understands and makes his final joke, saying: I'd like to come along with you if you don't mind, sir. I ain't bin up in this part of the front line. Don't want to get lorst." His words remind us the bravery of the ordinary soldiers; he represents them in the play. The shells have now started to fall. Raleigh is hit and is ordered by Stanhope to be put in the officer's dug out. His last words are: "Could we have light? It's- it's so frightfully dark and cold." He dies before Stanhope can bring a lighted Candle. Stanhope chooses to stay with his school friend rather than join the men. The chaos has brought the schoolmates together at the end; war becomes irrelevant to Stanhope, whose basic humanity leads him to stay with Raleigh. Trotter sends down a desperate message for Stanhope to join the men but he never makes it as the dug out is blown up. This makes us realise that war is futile; it destroys normal life. The men in the play represent a whole generation that was wasted. ...read more.

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