Journey’s End essay by Sam Thacker

“Journey’s End” shows the horror of trench warfare in the First World War. R. C Sheriff knows about it because he was an officer in it and he presents a realistic picture of life in the trenches as he had known and seen it when he was in the war fighting. The issues raised by R. C Sheriff were that by 1928 soldiers were still disillusioned and traumatised by the war. It scarred the soldiers for life watching fellow men die when soldiers had to obey senseless orders to attack on the enemy even when the officers knew it was suicide.

But if the men did not follow these orders they would be ashamed of themselves as another person does it for them and they have to live with humiliation. R. C Sheriff shows the dreadful conditions and the waste of lives in the trenches. Stanhope has a lot of strengths, which make him a very good company commander. Stanhope cares about his men and looks after them well. He takes care of the trenches and expects them to be in good condition and order. We know this when he is angry about the way Hardy left the trenches.

Everybody respects Stanhope and he takes his fair share of work, he proves this when he says, ” Hibbert can do from 2 till 4 and I’ll go on from then till stand -to that’ll be at 6″. Stanhope is unselfish, thinks of others before himself and cares for Osborne. He proves this when he lets Osborne have the best bed and Stanhope has one next to the table. Stanhope sometimes challenges the colonel when Stanhope disagrees with the raid tactics. Stanhope is brave and has the Military Cross.

Stanhope is a dedicated hard working man; we know this because he says “I’ve got hours of work before I sleep”. Stanhope gives clear and fair orders to the men and he is decisive Commander. He keeps the morale up of the men to make them feel better. Stanhope has less weaknesses than strengths but still has a lot of weaknesses in being a Company Commander. Stanhope is an alcoholic and drinks too much. This is due to the strain and stress of war and the only way to keep him in order and not being scared. We know this when he says, “There was only 2 ways of breaking the strain.

One was pretending I was ill and go home. The other was this which would you choose Uncle? “. With Stanhope drinking it leads to dramatic outbursts like the time with Raleigh about giving him the letter to censor and the time with Hibbert when Stanhope almost shot him. Stanhope is very young for a company commander and the stress and strain is enormous for a 21 year old. Stanhope has had very few breaks, he has been out for 3 years and only had a few breaks and this leads him to being exhausted and worn out.

Stanhope is afraid of losing his reputation of a good company commander by Madge finding out about him having to have a drink to go out on the line and Madge might think less of him. The only way she can find out is by Raleigh saying it in his letters so Stanhope decides to censor his letter. We know this because he says, “Go sleep yourself, I censor his letters, do you see, Uncle you watch and see he doesn’t smuggle and letters away”. Stanhope is afraid of dying because all the men he went out with in the beginning are all dead now. Stanhope is also aware of the dangers of war and the waste of lives and this makes him very afraid.

If I were the director I would show how Stanhope is irritable in this dramatic outburst by showing how much whisky he drinks and he keeps topping up his glass while he gulps it down like water. I would show how he always has his whisky mug in his hand. I would show Stanhope’s drunken laughter, which you can tell because it sounds like a sarcastic laugh. He is irritable with Osborne by snapping back when Osborne says something like when Osborne says, ” Why should he he’s not a -“. Then Stanhope interrupts and says ” Exactly he’s not a damned little swine who’d deceive his sister “.

Stanhope pushes Osborne away when Osborne puts his hand on Stanhope’s shoulder and Stanhope shakes it off, this also shows how Stanhope is being nasty towards Osborne, but Osborne still speaks in a calm and gentle way to Stanhope in a way that the audience can trust Osborne’s comments and decisions. When Osborne puts Stanhope to sleep, Osborne is affectionate to Stanhope, which Stanhope needs at the time. We see that Stanhope is also irritated because he smokes cigarettes quite a lot. Stanhope isn’t as confident at the end of act one because the insults Osborne unlike before where he was alright with him.

Stanhopes drinking increases even more so he can escape the reality of war. Stanhope starts to get a high pitched voice and he slurs off at the end of sentences. Stanhope also keeps repeating himself for example with Stanhope censoring Raleigh’s letters; he keeps going on about it. It seems as though he isn’t speaking clearly and he rambles on a lot, for example he says ” I’m a fine fellow for ever and ever and ever” and he mumbles ever and ever. Stanhope appears exhausted and worn out due to all the work he does. Unlike before where Stanhope spoke clearly and precise he now trails off at the end of sentences.

The director shows how young and vulnerable Stanhope is because he talks like a baby and obeys Osborne like a Parent. We see this when Stanhope says, ” yes I go sleep”. Stanhope needs a kiss from Osborne and Stanhope needs affection from Osborne. We see this when Stanhope says, ” kiss me Uncle”, to Osborne. In this scene the room has dark lighting with just a few candles and there is bombing sounds in the background. Osborne smokes a pipe and he has a wedding ring and is older and calmer, which makes the audience see him as a wise man.

The audience after seeing Journey’s End would realise how dreadful the 1st World War was and the horror of trench warfare and respect how the people died for their country. They would see how dreadful the conditions in the trenches were and the audience would feel what the soldiers were going through with all the fear and stress. The audience would see what a waste of lives it was with the senseless orders and how little they gained with the amount of men who died. The audience would make mixed opinions of Stanhope but most of the audience would feel sorry for Stanhope with what he has gone through at such a young age.

The audience will think that Stanhope dealt well with Hibbert and persuaded him to stay. The audience will see that Stanhope had a good reason for drinking because of all the stress of the war and to escape the dreadful reality he was in. I think the audience will admire Stanhope that he has stuck it out through the war and having hardly any breaks and Stanhope always work his very hardest. Most people would think that Stanhope is the commanding officer they would like to have because he does what is best for his men and he is a very brave man.

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