How does R.C Sherriff use dramatic devices to effectively recreate the horror and reality of the war upon the stage?

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Modern drama coursework

Journey’s end by R.C Sherriff

How does R.C Sherriff use dramatic devices to effectively recreate the horror and reality of the war upon the stage?

In your answer, you must refer to one scene in close detail

Kasun Wickramasinghe

Journeys End

The prime purpose of this assignment is to show how the author of “journeys end” has used dramatic devices to effectively recreate the horror and the reality of the war. Journeys End, is a play based on the real-life experiences of R.C Sherriff during the First World War. In the play R.C Sherriff has used the setting for the play as a dug-out in the British trenches. Overall, the play reflects the life style of the people in one particular dug-out. The main Characters (people living in this dug-out) of this play include Stanhope - the commander of that infantry Company, Osborne, Trotter, Hibbert and Raleigh - officers of the company, and Mason - the officers’ cook.

Recreation of the physical horrors of war on stage is an arduous task. These horrors that R.C Sherriff has confronted within the play briefly consist of - death, home sickness, families destroyed, mental disease, living conditions, suspense, Mal-nourishment and the way in which the Characters gradually change. Unable to realistically create such horrors, R.C Sherriff has relied on alternative techniques and methods which focus on the mental torture and suffering of the men through techniques including were mainly, the lighting in the stage, the way the characters act in certain circumstances and how other characters attitude are towards them.

In this assignment I have considered scene 3 in act 3 which ranges from page 92 to page 103. The particular reason for my choice is that this is in my opinion the most emotional scene in the play as it also includes the event where Raleigh dies after having an immensely deep conversation with Stanhope. I think this event is by far the most emotional event throughout the whole play as it effortlessly creates the horror and the reality of the war. This scene also includes minor events which show the audience the horror and the reality of the war, for example - the event where Hibbert is horribly terrified as he is to go out of the trenches for battle.

At the beginning of the scene the audience could realize that living in the trenches is tiresome and even gruesome at times. One fact in this regard that R.C Sherriff emphasises is that the men did not have enough time to have a full nights sleep. And even if they had time the conditions in the trenches were not suitable for sleeping [I keep on waking up. It’s so frightfully cold in here].  [Stanhope rises stiffly from his bed, shudders form the cold] reinforces the theory that the conditions in the trenches were appalling.

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However, even in these circumstances Trotter is very optimistic. This optimism is shown in the way he talks to others [I’ad a good decent sleep] and is also shown at the beginning of page 94 where he sings as he is getting ready to go out into battle. This is a very unusual thing to do because he would have understood that these could well have been the last few hours of his life as he had more of a chance of dying than living on that particular day. I think that Hibbert symbolises happiness and optimism in this ...

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