“Journey’s End” written by RC Sheriff

In the play, “Journey’s End” written by RC Sheriff, there are two officer characters called Standhope and Raleigh. They grew up together, because their fathers were friends and Standhope was engaged to Raleigh’s sister. They were friends and went to the same school. As they grew up Raleigh began to see Standhope as a hero; he was a bit of a hero-worshipper. Standhope was three years older than Raleigh. After Standhope left school he enlisted straight away to join the army. When Raleigh left school, he to enlisted straight away to join the army.

In the army Standhope commanded his own company. When Raleigh enlisted to join the army he asked his uncle to “put him the same battalion as Standhope”. This shows that Raleigh still hero-worships, because he wants to go everywhere that Standhope goes. This could be interpreted in another way; which could be where Raleigh wants his life to be like it was when Dennis in the holidays when they were “Terrific pals”. This tells us that he hasn’t thought about the fact that Standhope could’ve changed from how Raleigh remembers him to be like.

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I think that Raleigh’s attitude to war and his expectations of what Standhope will be like is naive. This can be interpreted because Raleigh is always talking about how he and Standhope were such “terrific pals”; he hasn’t thought that Standhope might have changed. When Standhope enters the play he is extremely shocked to see that his new replacement officer is Raleigh. He resents Raleigh at this point because he’s afraid that Raleigh would write home and explain to his sister that Standhope was a drunk.

He thought this because he didn’t know that Osborne had put a wise word in, “if you notice a difference in Standhope, you’ll know that it’s only the strain”. This subtlety told Raleigh not to think the reason why Standhope drank a lot was due to the strain of his job. Standhope doesn’t know about this, so this is where the sour relationship begins. When Raleigh writes his first letter, and asks Standhope “where are the letters collected from”, Standhope thinking that Raleigh would’ve told is sister about Standhope’s habits.

Standhope’s relation with Raleigh at this point is still bitter so orders Raleigh to give him the letter. Raleigh, embarrassed says he won’t bother with the letter after all. This makes Standhope lose his temper, and his shouts “Don’t you understand what an order is”, and Raleigh shyly handed it over and left quite quickly. Standhope had got it wrong Raleigh had been complimenting him in the letter and he’d just worsened their relationship, by his suspicious interpretations of Raleigh. Standhope is paranoid of whether Raleigh has told his sister what Standhope is really like now.

To overcome this problem Standhope abuses his power to get the letter of Raleigh. After the raid where Osborne gets killed Raleigh comes back completely dazed and in a lot of shock. He comes down in to the dugout stumbling and sits on Osborne’s bed. Standhope quickly says “can you not sit on Osborne’s bed”, this shows that he doesn’t think enough of Raleigh, or that he just doesn’t feel sorry for him because he just lost his best friend in his company. This shows that their relationship is still sour. One of these is at the reward dinner for the company’s success in the earlier raid.

This is where Raleigh believes that he’s the only member of the company to care about the death of Osborne. It’s at this point Standhope gets really angry because he says “my god, you bloody little swine”, this shows how he’s feeling because at the time of the First World War that would’ve been a offensive to say. This shows that Raleigh doesn’t realise that Standhope has lost so many of his friends in the war that he only gets over of the deaths by drinking vast amounts of alcohol. Standhope now feels that Raleigh doesn’t understand about how hard it is for him to get over Osborne’s death.

Since the beginning of the play the Germans have been planning a huge attack which could change the future of the war. As the Germans start the artillery barrage to start the attack, a piece of shrapnel hits Raleigh in the back and knocks him to the ground. It’s at this point in the play is when Standhope and Raleigh’s relationship has a turn for the better because Standhope knows that Raleigh will die. He tells the sergeant major to bring him on to the dugout; this is to make his last few minutes comfortable.

In the dug out Standhope specifically puts Raleigh on Osborne’s bed to make the point that now he sees Raleigh as a friend. I think that R. C Sheriff is trying to convey respect now between Raleigh and Standhope. At this point their relationship is back to how it was in the holidays when they were younger, on first name terms again. Standhope does everything he can to make the rest of Raleigh’s life better by staying by his side and explaining how he’s going to go to hospital and then home. It’s when he gets Raleigh a candle and comes back to find him passed away.

He slumps in to a corner of the dug out and breathes listlessly. I think that this is when he realises that he should’ve been much happy to have an old friend in his company. The play shows how various aspects of wars change continuously change people due to the strain and stress caused by it. I think that this is what happened to Standhope. The play gives the readers the idea that the conditions and the experienced people lived in and went through in World War One, were horrendous, this is done by Standhope, and his drinking addiction which is suggested to be because of the harsh conditions and environments.

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