Journeys end is a play that has been successful for over 70 years; it has entertained audiences of 7 different generations and still remained a hit. This success is due to the amazing web of tension and drama that is mixed together to form the ultimate concoction of excitement.
The play is written by R.C. Sherriff, a man who had experienced the trauma of the 1st world war, life in the front line, this gives the play its realistic edge, the play immediately gets into the story line, and starts the play with extremely detailed stage introductions which easily give the reader a clear picture in their mind of what the scene looks like. It would very easily instruct the actors on the mood of the scene.Order now
‘A pale glimmer of moonlight shines down the narrow steps into one corner of the dug-out. Warm, yellow candle-flames light the other corner from the necks of two bottles on the table’
The play doesn’t waste time with idle introductions, it introduces the characters gradually, so it is like you are part of the play and you are there speaking with the characters themselves.
‘Hullo Osborne! Your fellows just coming in?
Yes. They’re just coming in.
Splendid! Have a drink’
Hardy is in good humor because he and his regiment are being moved off the front line for a while. Osborne however is not as happy he and his men are being moved into the trenches from the comforts of the support lines.
As they are amid the turmoil and death that is the trenches they take they’re mind off the situation with idle chatter about meaningless things.
‘Cheero. Excuse my sock, wont you?
Certainly. It’s a nice-looking sock.
It is rather, isn’t it? Guaranteed to keep the feet dry.’
And if they must bring the aspects of the trenches into their conversations they cover up the brutal reality of what is really going on.
‘Awful. A dug-out got blown up and came down in the men’s tea. They were frightfully annoyed.’
Obliviously the ‘Minnie’ had killed the men but that did not come up within the conversation because it would be too distressing, for Osborne and Hardy
The main aspect of the play is the character Raleigh, a boy of 18 who is drafted into Stanhope’s regiment. He has been put into Stanhope’s regiment after much meddling on his own account. Stanhope and Raleigh were at school together, though Stanhope was quite older than Raleigh. Raleigh being younger had looked up to Stanhope and ‘hero-worshiped’ him. The character Stanhope has a relationship with the sister of Raleigh. And Raleigh’s sudden appearance in his regiment of all the regiments on the front line seems uncanny to Stanhope. Stanhope becomes paranoid and suspicious around Raleigh, for he is worried that he will write and tell his sister of Stanhope’s drinking habits. When Raleigh writes a letter home, and tries to send it Stanhope cracks and tries to exert his power over Raleigh and make him give up the letter. A big argument takes place.
‘Give me that letter!
But â€“ Dennis â€“
Give me that letter!
But â€“ it’s private. I didn’t know â€“
D’you understand an order? Give me that letter!
Stanhope lets his paranoia get the better of him and goes into a rage. And Raleigh eventually submits as Stanhope tears the letter from his hand. Raleigh is shocked. This isn’t the Dennis that he knew at school, it’s the Stanhope that’s been in the front line for 3 years. He stares amazed at how the front line can change a man.
The play covers the first week of this new officer Raleigh and how he changes as well. He matures a lot during this one week. Raleigh is the cause of a lot of tension with Stanhope. There is a lot of tension between them. As the German attack nears they become closer and the tension between them disappears. All the apprehension is coming from the troops as they nervously await the day of the attack and most probably the day of their death.
Near the time of the attack Stanhope has a very hard decision to make; he has two choose two officers to make a raid on the German trenches. This is hard for he is close to all of his officers, and a raid means that almost certainly one of the officers he sends in won’t come back. Stanhope is influenced by the Colonel into choosing Raleigh and Osborne much against his will. He suggests trotter and Hibbert first but colonel rejects both of them and chooses Raleigh.
‘As a matter of fact, Stanhope, I suggest that youngster I sent up to you last night’
Osborne and Raleigh are told of the raid, Raleigh is excited as he does not know the risks and has never seen a raid before. Osborne on the other hand knows what the consequences are and is scarred by the prospects of the raid.
After the raid only Raleigh comes back. Stanhope is upset and takes it out on Raleigh.
At last the German attack arrives and the play finishes magnificently. Raleigh is wounded by shrapnel witch severs his spine and leaves him on the verge of death. Stanhope treats Raleigh as a child at the doctor’s office and tries to sooth him. Stanhope rises to get a candle for Raleigh. Raleigh dies as he is up and as he comes back Stanhope tries to talk to him, but gets no answer.
‘Is that better jimmy? Raleigh makes no sign. Jimmy still is quiet. Stanhope gently takes his hand. There is a long silence. Stanhope lowers Raleigh’s hand to the bed, rises and takes the candle back to the table.’
Stanhope is fetched by a soldier for Trotter and reluctantly leaves the dug-out and Raleigh’s side. The play ands as a mortar hits the trench roof and it collapses.
This ending leaves space for the viewer or readers own imagination to ponder what happens to the characters. Letting the reader or viewer finish the play as he or she wishes.