Journey’s End is a World War 1 play. An eyewitness called R C Sheriff writes the play. Sheriff re-creates the horror of trench warfare in an extremely descriptive and powerful way even though the play is only set in one scene, the officer’s dugout. Trenches in the war where filthy, filling up with dying bodies, 1,000,000’s of rats and many germs and diseases.
I think that when Sheriff was writing this play in 1928 he thought that he could show himself as one of the officers/characters in play, I think he was imitating himself as Stanhope. The audience that watch play’s now day’s are very different to the one’s who watched play’s in 1928, this is because only a certain class of people could afford to go to the theatre. Now day’s technology is better and now advanced props are used. Most acts of performing arts are now seen at the cinema.
If we were to go and see Journey’s End today most of us would be shocked and horrified after watching this play, but back in 1928 people who were watching this play may have been out in the trenches, so they could personally relate to how the characters are feeling. Now days most people haven’t witnessed mass death! So they may be more sympathetic towards the characters, whereas people who have fought in the wars may say that it was a sacrifice that you had make for your country.
Journeys End’s is set in one scene only, the officer’s dugout. I think this is a great technique to create the stress impact for the audience because it shows how small the trenches are and how impossible it would be to live in the trenches. It also must have been very hard for Sheriff to write the play because he had to base the whole of the play around one area.
I think that Sheriff has used very realistic trench conditions. Sheriff doesn’t over exaggerate the trench conditions because even though he said “millions of rats” I believe this quote is not an exaggeration and a fact that Sheriff put in the play to make the audience feel the fear of being in a trench. There are many quotes of the trench conditions and another one is “they are filthy, filling up with dead rotting bodies.
To go and watch or read Journey’s End you would have to be interested in War to go and watch this play but you would be able to believe the trench conditions because the is loads of evidence to back up these statements.
The main characters in the play are Stanhope, Hardy, Raleigh, Hibbert, Trotter and Osborne.
Stanhope use drink to cover up his stress, fear and emotions. He drinks to cover up the nightmare of trench warfare and the fear knowing that death could be knocking on his door at anytime soon. He drinks to numb the pain knowing that the Bosche attack is coming any day! Stanhope says, “I am the only one left of all the solider who I came out here with”. Stanhope has a petty argument with Mason (the cook) because there is an unlabelled tin, which Mason thinks, is Pineapple Chucks but Stanhope wants Tomatoes. This shows how far Stanhope is away from reality and how stressed he is.
Hardy is used as one of Sheriffs writing devices. Sheriff uses Hardy as a distraction device at the start of the play, because he starts talking about the trench condition rather than the Bosche attack, Sheriff uses as very interesting technique to set the scene, because most writers use the narrator to do this, but instead Sheriff uses a character.
Raleigh is the “new boy” but he knows Stanhope from his private secondary school and has always looked up to him! Raleigh was delighted to be put in Stanhope’s section and says, “I can see how my youth hero is”.
Hibbert is a really petty arguer and he will get hooked up on the smallest thing and will argue over it. He is very disrespectful towards women and is also very sexist towards them. Hibbert tries to get sent home by pretending to be ill, but Stanhope and Hibbert have a big row over Hibbert trying to fake an illness and Stanhope even threatens to shoot him with a gun.
Trotter is a unusually positive character and cheerful solider on the outside but is a very scared of dying and losing his life to war. He smokes and drinks a lot to cover up pain and fear.