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Stress In R.C. Sherriff's Journey's End

3912 words - 16 pages

World war I broke out in 1914 and lasted until 1918 when the armistice
was signed. Throughout this period great destruction was suffered
across the world and in particular in 1918 when the German army was
preparing a massive attack against the allies.

'Journey's End' was written by R.C.Sherriff in 1928. It is set in the
British trenches a few days before the expected attack and Sherriff
re-creates the moments leading up to it. This drama is based upon
Sherriff's real-life experiences as he himself was a captain of the
East-Surrey regiment and played a part in the First World War.
Sherriff's understanding of the relationships between men and the
morale of soldiers living in the confines of the trenches are
portrayed through the characters features in the play.

Sherriff's purpose when writing the play may have been to celebrate
the ten year anniversary as there were floods of memoirs, poems and
reminiscences coming out around this time, however he may have more
importantly wanted to ensure that war doesn't break out again by
illustrating the pain and hopelessness he endured at was to convince
his audience.

'Journey's End' gives the reader/audience a clear insight into the
reality of life at war and explores the harsh conditions experienced
by the men/officers at the front line.

Despite Sherriff's ability to re-create the soldiers lives, staging
the play is a main difficulty in which many things would need to be
considered before-hand such as the audience he is targeting, sound,
lighting and props. It is vital that what happens on stage is
realistic to the audience so that their interpretations of trench
conditions is genuine. He would also need to make things realistic as
he may well find that ex soldiers are watching the production and know
what it was like to live in the murky midst of the dug outs. Although
there are obstacles there are also many things that can be done to
achieve the treacherous effect of the trenches-the atmosphere being
one of these. We would expect it to be intensely dark, cramped and
intimidating so a confined area, candles and faint lighting would be
used. In real-life this would also give the soldiers a confused sense
of time as the trench would be continually dim but in the audience
itself a feeling of isolation would be created thus involving them on
a higher level. The audience would also need to be convinced that a
battle is in progress so occasional loud bangs to represent gun shots
and grenades, plus the lingering odour of smoke to add to the effect
would be essential.

The play begins on a dreary march evening in which the first character
seen, Hardy -an officer of another regiment-is shown intently drying a
moist sock over a yellow candle flame. This futile image highlights
the day to day drudgery of warfare in which soldiers appear to have a
limited amount of clothing and a frustrating solitary existence. Not
only does this striking image convey the...

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