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The Presentation Of War In The Play The Long, The Tall And The Short

1912 words - 8 pages

The Presentation of War in the Play The Long, the Tall and the Short

Willis Hall was a man who caught the tail end of a ferocious war. He
used his knowledge of northern life from Leeds to represent realistic
people in an all too realistic war. Even though he never participated
in World War II, he went on post-military service, with war-hardened
officers, telling of tales of death and destruction. It's these two
details of realistic people and harsh representations of a bloody war,
combined with his ear for language and eye for natural human behaviour
which enabled him to portray a dramatically yet accurate
representation of human hopes and fears strained to their limits in a
devastating war.

The play is about human survival stretched to its limits. Seven men
who are thrown into the centre of a war filled Malaysian jungle find
refuge in a hut. Two are war hardened veterans while the others are
inexperienced to the cruel reality of war. Their only contact with the
outside world is a fading radio transmitter. The realness of their
situation doesn't first sink in and they banter along contentedly. But
when they capture one of the enemies, tempers are flared,
relationships are built and crumble, authority is questioned and
accusations fly to form a disturbing climax.

All characters are designed to contrast each other. They are all
regional stereotypes so the audience already know what to expect from
some of the characters; regional hostility towards each other. There
are also the hierarchical stereotypes; the aggressive leader, the
simple soldiers, the soldier given authority, caught between his
comrades and his responsibilities. All these give the reader a preview
of attitudes and actions of the characters.

The two senior officers are Johnstone and Mitcham. Johnstone is a
vicious brutal soldier, with no compassion and is willing to kill in
cold blood in an instance. He is very uneasy with the hierarchical
placements, with an obvious feeling of unrest being under command of
Mitcham. He disagrees with Mitcham's way of doing things and believes
in no mercy, whatever the circumstances. Mitcham, on the other hand,
is less brutal and allowing but can be tough when the occasion calls
for. He has more of an open mind than Johnstone, allowing his
decisions to be based on the moment, whereas Johnstone believes in
only one way of doing things. But both characters represent a rounded
view of the army and authority, giving a different side of the war
from the rookies.

There are five other soldiers who represent regional diversity and the
views of varying inexperience. The main two are MacCleish and
Bamforth. The first being from Scotland and the second being a cockney
Londoner, the audience already expects some form of friction. But what
develops is something much deeper....

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