Sunday, September 1, 2019

Effects of War Presented in Journey’s End Compared with Impact of War Shown in Strange Meeting Essay

Explore the ways in which the effects of war on the individual are presented in ‘Journey’s End’. Then compare the ways in which Sherriff presents the effects of war on the individual with the ways in which Hill shows the impact of war on characters in ‘Strange Meeting’. The character most obviously affected by the war in ‘Journey’s End’ is Stanhope. We learn early on in the play that Stanhope drinks very heavily when Osborne and Hardy have a conversation about him. â€Å"I never did see a youngster put away the whisky he does. This is the first we see of the effects that the war has had on an individual and although there are other characters that are also affected, Stanhope appears to be the most prominent. It becomes apparent that Stanhope made a conscious decision to drink as a coping mechanism to deal with the war. â€Å"It was after I came back here- in that awful affair on Vimy Ridge. I knew I’d go mad if I didn’t break the strain. I couldn’t bear being fully conscious all the time†¦Ã¢â‚¬  Here we learn that it wasn’t until a particular attack within the war that Stanhope began to feel the strain and the pressure, and alcohol becomes an escape for him. He says â€Å"There are only two ways of breaking the strain. One was pretending I was ill- and going home; the other was this. [He holds up his glass]†. Sherriff could have shown us a minor character so deeply affected by alcohol that he had given up, whereas Stanhope appears quite the opposite, whereas in ‘Strange Meeting’ Hill gives us a minor character affected by alcohol. It is also worth noting Raleigh’s reaction to his alcoholism is completely different to how Stanhope fears he will react, and in a way, our reaction too. Rather than look to Stanhope as a weak man who has taken the easy route by drinking excessive amounts, we seem to view him as courageous and strong willed. We later learn when he is talking to Hibbert, that Stanhope isn’t as strong and resistant as we were originally led to believe. â€Å"Sometimes I feel I could just lie down on this bed and pretend I was paralysed or something- and couldn’t move- and just lie there till I died- or was dragged away†. The effects of war on Stanhope are presented both subtly and obviously. His drinking habits are continually referred to throughout and although we learn early on that it is something that the war has forced him into, his hatred for the war or his weak moments aren’t made clear to the reader until now when he admits his loathing to Hibbert. Hill’s character, Colonel Garrett in ‘Strange Meeting’ is similar to Stanhope in the sense that both characters are driven to excessive drinking by the effects of the war. Colonel Garrett has changed and also turned to drink, we know this as the prose reads that â€Å"Hilliard was appalled; he had not dreamed that this could happen and so quickly to a man like Garrett†. Despite this scene being the first time we are introduced to Colonel Garrett; Hill manages to present the impact the war has had on him through Hilliard’s reaction to Garrett’s new state of character. In contrast to Hill, Sheriff is less subtle in his presentation of Stanhope and the character himself admits his change. It is interesting to note that Garrett is minor within the novel whereas Stanhope is a major character in the play which shows the different ways in which each author chose to present the effect of alcohol within their text. At the beginning of the play, Raleigh appears to be optimistic and enthusiastic. Even when he is ordered to go on a raid he seems proud to have been chosen and eager to get out there; â€Å"I say- it’s most frightfully exciting! † however, this raid then triggers a change in Raleigh. After Osborne’s death, Raleigh becomes distant and resentful towards the other officers. â€Å"Good god! Don’t you understand? How can I sit down and eat that- when- when Osborne’s- lying- out there†. Not only is he struggling to cope and raising his voice; which he hadn’t done before, but he is also shouting at Stanhope. Prior to this, Raleigh had always treated Stanhope with the utmost respect. Similar to Sheriff’s character of Raleigh is Hill’s character of Barton in ‘Strange Meeting’ who also changes after the impact of experiencing a death. â€Å"That his face had changed, in the space of a day and a night that his eyes have taken on the common look of shock and misery and exhaustion†¦Ã¢â‚¬  As with Raleigh in ‘Journey’s End’, Barton also began the novel full of optimism and energy. However, Sheriff presents the effects of the war on Raleigh by having his character lashing out and blaming others. This contrasts with Hill’s presentation of Barton, who takes on a more morose, downhearted way of coping. â€Å"You cannot and must not spend any more time blaming yourself, saying if only this and if only that. It’s useless†. However, the parallel is that both characters change due to another soldier’s death which affects the impact on the reader. The effect of the war on Hibbert (Journey’s end), another officer in the company, is firstly presented subtly, in the way that he speaks of his neuralgia preventing him from carrying on in the war. We soon learn that he wants to go home and is willing to make up any excuse in order to do so. This shows how the war has taken away his pride and dignity as he admits that he would rather die. â€Å"Go on, then, shoot! You won’t let me go to hospital. I swear I’ll never go into those trenches again. Shoot! – and thank god-â€Å". The war has affected Hibbert so deeply that he is prepared to die rather than continue fighting. The character, Harris in ‘Strange Meeting’ is very similar to Hibbert. Harris has a breakdown when their battalion arrives at ‘Feuvry’; â€Å"Then Harris lurched up, and forwards, his head touched his knees and he began to cry, not lifting his hands to wipe his face†. However, where Sheriff presents us with a man so desperate to depart that he is willing to lie about an illness and is prepared to die rather than continue in the war, Hill presents us with an ironic situation. The irony of the situation is that when Harris eventually comes out of the basement; he is killed. Both writers choose to present us with individuals so affected by the war that they actually suffer from a breakdown in one way or another. Coulter from ‘Strange Meeting’ and Trotter from ‘Journey’s End’ can also be compared. These two characters are similar in the way that they don’t seem to have been affected by the war as they show no signs of degeneration. These two characters are an important contrast to the likes of Barton and Stanhope, whose changes are quite obvious. I feel that not to have changed notably is their response to the war. Coulter and Trotter both appear to be staying as close to their normal, original selves as possible as a coping mechanism for the war. It is interesting to note the genre difference between the two texts. Strange Meeting’ being a novel means that there is far more supportive background and descriptive text for each character whereas ‘Journey’s End’ which is a play, must rely on dramatic encounter in order to demonstrate the development of a character. A lot of things which Hill would tell us in her prose must be relayed to the reader through dialogue or actions in the play. Hill could tell us that Barton came to the war excited and enthusiastic, whereas Sherriff would either have his character say how he felt or the stage directions would have to navigate the actor into getting this feeling across through actions. This makes each author’s presentation of the effects of the war on the individual different automatically. Hill and Sherriff both present the effects that the war has on individuals through similar characters. They present to the reader how the death and destruction within the war can affect even the most strong and positive of men. In both the novel and the play, the authors portray how some men cannot cope with the imminence of what is to come and therefore would rather do anything but deal with it. Both writers examine how war can push men into drinking excessively in order to escape the desperate reality of their situation and use similar characters to highlight the ways in which war affects individuals, however the difference is in the way that the changes are presented. Hill is often more subtle in her presentation of her characters whereas Sherriff more blunt. Despite these differences, the negative effects of war on the individual characters are consistent in both works.

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