• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Through the selection of three characters in 'Journey's End' examine how Sherriff presents human weakness in the play.

Extracts from this document...


Through the selection of three characters in 'Journey's End' examine how Sherriff presents human weakness in the play. 'Journey's End' is an anti-war play written by R. C. Sherriff. It deals with the effects of war on a select group of officers and has a static setting: the dugout of these officers. The play explores the way war affects men, the concept of masculinity, the exploitation of youth during the war, as well as class differences and other themes. One overarching theme, which encompasses how war affects men and masculinity, is that of human weakness. Sherriff questions contemporary and modern views of human weakness, as well as asking whether mental disturbance is intrinsically tied to war and whether this can be avoided. Sherriff's decision to write 'Journey's End' as a play may simply be due to his own preferences; he may simply have wanted to write a play as opposed to a novel. However it allows an intimate atmosphere to be created between the audience and characters. In presenting human weakness Sherriff has the advantage of being able to force the audience to experience life in a dug-out - the noise, the claustrophobia, the constant threat of attack - thus sharing the stress of the environment between the characters and audience, and demanding that the audience empathise with the experiences of the characters through this. Sherriff's gender directly influences the play as Sherriff had served in the trenches during the First World War, something which would not have been possible had he been female. ...read more.


and this seems to be, from the frequent references, a common occurrence. This suggests both that drinking itself is a weakness of Stanhope's, but also that it is driven by the stress placed on him by his role in the army and within the war itself. It is therefore possible to surmise that Stanhope is trapped in a cycle: he drinks to cope with his 'weaknesses' regarding his inability to cope with the pressures placed on him by the war, but he also drinks because he is so used to it. Stanhope appears to be an alcoholic, although there is a clear reason for his alcoholism. Hibbert also drinks, but his motivations seem different from Stanhope's. He does use alcohol as a coping mechanism; when he tells Stanhope the real reason he wants to leave the trenches, becoming hysterical in the process, he gladly "takes the mug [of whisky] and drinks" as a way to calm himself down. Yet Hibbert seems to drink more socially than Stanhope; at the beginning of Act Three Scene Two he, Stanhope and Trotter are drinking from "two champagne bottles" and Hibbert's "high-pitched and excited" (and frequent) laughter suggests that he is drunk, but also that he is eager to please Stanhope by laughing at his jokes. This implies that Hibbert is keen to fit in and, factoring in his vain appearance, it seems as though other's opinions matter highly to him. This is another aspect of Hibbert's weakness, as well as the vice of drinking. ...read more.


He speaks in short, commanding sentences, as befitting a senior officer. His short sentences and brief answers to Stanhope, such as "Yes. I suggested that." and "I'm afraid not. It's got to be done." also convey that he doesn't wish to discuss what Stanhope is talking about (the raid). The abrupt effect this gives his speech fits with the previous conclusion that he wishes to ignore the dangers the soldiers face, and additionally implies that he is, to a degree, incapable of sympathising with Stanhope and others' views. In 'Journey's End', Sherriff challenges commonly-held views of human weakness. He shows the audience through the character of Stanhope that even if someone appears outwardly strong and in control, they can still be considered 'weak'. He challenges the very concept of weakness, arguing through the prevalence of classically 'weak' behaviour in the play that what many people would have considered as being weak at the time the play was written and performed is in fact a perfectly logical response to war and combat situations. The view of weakness as being effeminate is also shown to be false through the fact that both Stanhope and Hibbert, such as when he says that he would rather die than go back into the trenches, can behave courageously, which is generally seen as a masculine characteristic. Sherriff also seems to conclude that mental disturbance is linked to warfare and, through the character of the Colonel, voices the opinion that this is partly because the officers do not see the soldiers as real people, but as pawns on a chessboard. Overall, Sherriff presents human weakness as something we all suffer from, albeit in different forms. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Other Play Writes section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Other Play Writes essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    The History Boys. Consider the significance of finding your way in life, in ...

    3 star(s)

    He has long-since stopped asking himself what when wrong.(p.108)? Here we could compare him to Hector when he says asks himself: ?What made me p**s my life away in this god-forsaken place? There?s nothing of me left.(p.65).? So, we could say that Posner is a sort of anti-hero.

  2. Troy Maxson, the main character in August Wilsons critically acclaimed play Fences, talks about ...

    told him to quit playing football and look for a steady job. Troy was discriminated when he was young for playing baseball and thinks his son fate will also be the same like him. But he doesn't realize that times have changed and at the same time he is arrogant as well.

  1. Equus Essay. Although it is obvious that Shaffer intended both Frank and Dora to ...

    That she doesn't require a detailed answer (she simply replies to Dysart's ominous "bearing up" with a curt "Please give him my love") makes the reader wonder whether or not the question was simple courtesy, and another example of Dora trying to save face by pretending to act like a

  2. Scene by scene analysis of "Equus"

    He just nodded and let his desire free run. The horseman put Alan on the horse which called Troja. Without saying any word, Alan was excited and got big eyes. When he sat on Troja, it seems to me that a dream came true for Alan. He held power in his hands.

  1. In The Silver Tassie. How does OCasey use the structure of his play in ...

    that she is distant from him because of the state he is in, and as he is not the ?hero? anymore which is ironic as he survived the war and they should be honoured to have him back, this shows that they careless which makes the audience feel angry towards the characters and Jessie.

  2. The play Cosi, written by Louis Nowra, supports the assumption that certain members of ...

    Additionally he begins to show the same lack of respect to Lewis when he chooses the patients over Nick. This is evident when he proceeds to call Lewis a ?nut? and tries to offend him by stating ?you (he) belongs here?, insinuating that he too should be institutionalised and separated from the rest of society.

  1. Comment on Sherriff's presentation of Stanhope in the first two acts of Journey's End.

    ? difference in Stanhope ? you?ll know it?s only the strain? ? he clearly does not grasp the fact that his hero will not be as he remembers him. Having now heard three very different accounts of the same character?the temperamental drunk that Hardy describes, the troubled but respected leader

  2. Alice in Wonderland timeless themes. Lewis Carrol published Alice in Wonderland in 1865 ...

    This influenced the character 'Hatter' who later became "The Mad Hatter", though Carroll never called him that. Society influences all works. We would only know the phrase 'mad as a hatter' because we would relate it to Alice in Wonderland; few would know the real mercury huffing origins.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work