I was looking across the Boche trenches and right beyond- not a sound, not a soul; just an enormous plain, all churned up, like a sea that’s got muddier and muddier until its so stiff that it cant move. You could have heard a pin drop in the quiet; yet you new thousands of guns where hidden there, already cleaned and oiled- millions of bullets lying in pouches- thousands of Germans waiting and thinking. In what ways does R.
C Sherriff re-create for his audience the over whelming stress and fear suffered by the men at the Front. Do all characters react on the same way?How does each individual cope with the nightmares of trench warfare? On many occasions throughout the book of the play of “Journeys End”, Sherriff uses methods to re-create the overwhelming stress of trench warfare. He describes every aspect of the trenches, the guns and the whole life. With this understanding of the trenches, the audience are helped in imagining what it must have been like to live there. In the play, all the narrative writing in the book has had to have been left out. Instead the directors must rely more on the acting and the scenery, which is not to do with Sherriff’s work and vision.However the directors of these plays have to get the scenery correct if they are going to make the audience understand the unbearable stress suffered by the soldiers.
Sherriff gives good guidance to the directors in the large columns of narratives, which have already been mentioned. With these the directors can strategically set the scenery in certain position to gain maximum effect while also having the benefit of knowing what the stage is meant to look like adding to the overall effects. The main way in which Sherriff re-creates the stress of warfare is in his large chunks of narrative.These are found on many pages throughout the book. He uses these to describe all about the lives of the men and the feelings of everyone. An example of this is on the first page where he introduces a very full-characterised captain. Of course these passages help the directors to grasp some aspect of the way the stage should look but also allows the reader to get his or her own picture in her head. With so many descriptive words throughout the book, it is hard not to imagine the front line in one way or another.
This method is very effective as it does give a full detailed account of everything throughout the book.Another way in which Sherriff recreates the stress for his audience is through his characters. He gives every single character good, descriptive lines enabling the actors to put across the stress of what the individual character feels.
The actors are given good stage directions from the book and Sherriff writes on how they should move and what expressions they should make to the point of the finest detail. In this way readers are aided in producing a picture in their head to help them re live the colossal stress while audience watching a performance of the play can see before them how characters behave because of the stress.With the behaviour of the soldiers that Sherriff has created the audience will be hard pressed not to recognise the un-imaginable stress suffered. He gives all the characters individual reactions and thus enables the audience, if they do not understand one characters reaction to the stress, to understand another characters reactions and so seize the concept of the stress suffered. He also makes the reactions of the characters personal thus allowing the audience to relate with the certain characters. This is the same for the reader of the book as well.With this individuality it makes it slightly easier for the producer of a production of this play to put on a good performance, as there will be continuity within the play making it more interesting for the audience. Another way in which he creates the overwhelming stress is through making even the minor characters behave slightly differently, showing that the stress took its toll on everybody.
All the characters throughout the book react in different ways to the stress. There are five main characters in which the book is based on, those being the 5 officers of the company.However even the privates and “NCOs” like the sergeant show different reactions and so it is to be suggested that stress will affect people differently. I will write about the five officers, telling of how they all react differently. The first officer I am going to write about is the highest ranking out of the lot, a captain called Stanhope.
He is in charge of the company and so is under the most pressure out of all of the officers enlisted into his company. He is a distinguished war hero and so is put under more pressure by the fact that he is expected to deliver by higher and lower ranking soldiers.It is not only his duty to lead the men to victory but also to deal with the nitty-gritty affairs and running of the company. It is he who must write letters home to widows or mothers, it is he that has to see to his men being fed and it is he that has to tell his “chaps” the news about the war and the world. He is also very young, being only 22 years of age. This would add a sting to the stress, as he may not be as well equipped with dealing with the stress as a man who is older perhaps. There is one obvious way in which Stanhope deals with the unbearable stress and that is through drink.He has resorted to drink to rid him of his nerves and when he is under the influence of it, he feels less scarred and can deal with the stress around him although maybe not the people.
It states throughout the book that his nerves were threadbare and though drink may have been the course of this, it helped him ease those feelings for short periods of time. However when he was drunk his behaviour diminished and his short temper shortened even more causing many arguments throughout the campaign. He is one the verge of a breakdown and welcomes drink open armed.
The other noticeable way in which Stanhope deals with the stress is through companionship in which he shares a strong bond with Osborne, the senior officer, second to Stanhope. I believe Stanhope sees Osborne as a father figure and on many occasions throughout the book seeks his advice. This helps Stanhope greatly in reducing the stress while also enabling him to let his feelings flow out, having to keep them contained in front of others. He also often asks advice from Osborne on various occasions thus reducing the stress of command. Osborne deals with the stress in different ways to Stanhope.He is similar to a Christ like being throughout the book.
I believe this because he helps people with their feelings like on page 45 where he helps Stanhope deal with the possibility of going mad, while keeping his locked up reducing pressure on others in doing so. He is known as a father like figure throughout the company and is affectionately called uncle, as he is the oldest man the force. The one way in which Osborne tries to deal with the stress he suffers is trough getting away from it all. He reads many books like “Alice in Wonderland” which is a very childlike book.He relishes the innocence of children and uses this to get away from all the blood shed. He mentions children throughout the book. Another way in which Osborne deals with the stress is by thinking of his family.
He lives through each day knowing the reward of a week or two leave whereby he can visit his beloved family. It is this thinking that gets him through many a dark hour. It is in these ways that he deals with the stress and they seem to be successful for him. Trotter is one of the four lieutenants and is the most senior lieutenant except for Osborne. He deals with the stress of warfare in two ways.The first way in which he deals with it is through food. His is a fairly stout man and loves food. I believe it is the thought of this that keeps him functioning throughout the day.
Maybe when he is on duty he thinks about the food awaiting his return and this may make him feel less nervous as his thoughts are concentrated on the food and not on the danger he is in. he delights in most things edible and is at his happiest when he is eating in the dugout. His love of food can however affect his relationship with the cook, as Trotter hates even the minor defaults in the dressing of the food.An example of this is the pepper incident where the cook, Mason, forgets to pack the pepper and is given a roasting by Trotter.
The other way in which Trotter deals with the stress is through jokes. Trotter is the jester of the company and is found to make many a witty remark. This gives him an individual cheer throughout the day while adding cheer to others if the jokes are applied in the write occasions! He combines these to methods together often when he makes jokes about the food.
An illustration of this is when his says, in the begging stages of the book, ” this cutlet wont let me cut it”.Hibbert is the second lowest ranked Lieutenant. He has already lost all of his nerves and now resents being at the “front” with all his heart. He does not do this in a nasty way but in a fearful way and is apprehensive of everything to do with the front line. It is hard for him to deal with the stress as he has already let it sink into his system and he could be described as of already having a nervous breakdown.
The one way in which the reader might be able to comment on how he deals with the stress he suffers is through cowardice.He gets through each day by plotting to get discharged from the front. He fakes many illnesses in an attempt to get sick leave. It is in these attempts where Hibbert lays all of his hope and it is this hope that keeps him alive although he almost gets himself killed by attempting to desert. This episode features on pages 54 to 59. He finds it hard to deal with the stress and spends many hours hiding and weeping, trying to hide from the on going suffering of the trenches. Raleigh is the newest and youngest of the officers.
He is strait from school and shows a freshness that the others do not have.He has no experience of the trenches when he first starts but the cruel life soon starts to take its toll. At first he uses Stanhope as inspiration.
He tries to do as well as Stanhope but soon stops as he realises this annoys his captain. As the book goes on Raleigh seeks solitude and goes about his duties on his own, speaking little. He adopts the posture and methods of a carthorse whereby he works through the day slowly but steadily, doing all that is required. Raleigh shows little signs of stress at the begging, which may be because he has not served for a lengthy period of time.When he comes back from the raid he seems to be in severe shock. He mourns Osborne’s death and now more than ever he seeks solitude, staying with the troops in the open air rather than in the claustrophobic air of the dugout. Towards the end of the book he re introduces Stanhope as an inspiration and tries to please him in many ways.
Raleigh uses Stanhope has an idle to get him through the stress. The other way in which he looks to avoid the stress is by sending letters to his family, and having general conversations like the one with Osborne where Raleigh finds out Osborne played rugby for England.Other generalised ways in which the men in the book deal with the stress is through patriotism. Frequent jokes are made about the Germans and many of the troops, including officers only stay and fight because they feel the Germans are doing the world an injustice.
Many of the men believe they are fighting for the safety of Britain and their families. The silence of the war is frequently mentioned throughout the book and many of the men gather in unity and sing songs to banish the quiet.