Journeys End is a play set in the trenches of World War One. It portrays the hardship and the suffering that the several officers in it had to endure, during the 3-4 days that are depicted in it. We get to know in quite a lot of depth the personalities and relationships that the men have with one another. Each officer is very different and individual in their up bringing and values concerning war and in life. The first officer we are acquainted with is Hardy, a company commander.
Hardy is a very easy going officer who looks on the bright side of life, ” One and two its with Maud and Lou;” he passes his time in the trenches singing nonsense rhymes and being a rather, “cheerful red- faced looking chap. “He does this to make the most of the situation that he is in, and from my impression he tries not to bother about the trivial facts that would just, in his mind, be an unwanted nuisance. I think this is intentional to help him keep his spirits high and his mind off the worst sides of the war.
This is a good quality in an officer as it not only keeps him light hearted it keeps the morale in the rest of the company high. He has good humour which explains his view on the war, which is very unlike the other officers who treat it much more seriously than he does who sees it all as one big joke. When he speaks he does not use the correct terminology in a lot of cases even though he knows exactly what they are called, “those horrid little things like pineapples”. Hardy has another very vital and excellent quality, which adds to his definition of being a good officer.
He is extremely observant of the surroundings and knows there is a great attack expected but he knows it is going to be due very soon as he has watched and detected “funny things happening over in the Boche country. There is more transport than usual, bringing up loads and loads of men” A reputable officer should always be alert and aware of any changes. He fulfils this requirement completely, as he is on the job when required and he keeps an eye open for any suspicious activity from the opponent.
Hardy is not a perfect officer and does have a few flaws like when Osborne asks about the sleeping arrangements and Hardy dismisses him. “I don’t know The Sergeant- Major sees to that”. His attitude is that others can worry about trivial things like ammunition, logs and all the time-wasting necessities that really are essential but not in his view. He is not bothered about tying up loose ends but is aware that he should be. His disorganisation is one factor which slightly eats away at his image as a good officer.
He has not checked the trench stores or has not made any effort to make sure everything is present and correct, “25 right leg and 9 left leg gumboots”. Hardy is very eager to leave before the next officer Stanhope arrives, “Well, no, I don’t specially want to see him”. I think he does this as he knows that he is not completely fulfilling his role as an officer. This is the complete opposite to Osborne’s conscientiousness and efficiency. Osborne is the second officer we come across in the play. When we first meet Osborne it is evident that Osborne is a more serious, methodical man.
He asks lots of questions; about the beds, where the stores are and he asks for the logbook. These qualities are useful in an officer as it shows that they like a good clear view of things in their head, which would be a paramount factor in an attack. Osborne is very defensive of Stanhope in a conversation when Hardy accuses Stanhope of “Drinking like a fish as usual? ” He adamantly sticks up for him “He’s a long way the best company commander we’ve got. ” From this we establish that Osborne and Stanhopes friendship is a good one and that Osborne is very loyal to him. “.
Hardy comments that Osborne ought to be in command but this only embarrasses him, Osborne really respects and looks up to people in higher command. He thinks that experience is essential and seeks out the good aspects of a person. Having such friendships such as the one shared between Osborne and Stanhope is a valuable asset to have when in the trenches, it helps to take away some of the pain and sorrow that these men have to endure. Hardy does think Stanhope is a good old chap but thinks of him as a bit of a freak and an exhibitionist who has a reputation for drinking.
Osborne puts his drinking down to the fact that Stanhope has been out here for three years now and did not even go home on his last leave. So the drink is just something that helps him cope with the strains of being on the front “he’s stuck it till his nerves have got battered to bits. ” Stanhope shows commitment as an officer as he came out of school when he was eighteen and came straight into the military to fight. He never rests or gets ill and Stanhope is such a loyal and good officer he would risk his own life for his men. Surely this is the highest quality an officer could possess and really does make him worth his weight in gold?
Stanhope will stand by his men at all times and when he and Hibbert share the same fear Stanhope will put himself out and go up the top to comfort and reassure him. Stanhope is more intelligent than he seems and he uses psychology to calm Hibbert down. He does this for a good reason because he needs all the help for the attack and also cares about the welfare of his men. Motivating him will add to the success of the attack and make Hibbert feel better at the same time. This makes him a good officer as he gets his priorities right.
He wants to please the Colonel and at the same time he keeps the company happy. This really emphasises the fact he is a superb company commander and most of the men especially Osborne agree with this “His experience alone makes him worth a dozen people like me”. Another officer that we come to know is Raleigh a young healthy looking boy around the age of 18. He is a 2nd lieutenant straight from school. He is a good school chum of Stanhope’s “We were at school together”. From the start you can tell that he is a very enthusiastic boy who is very eager to get involved and fight the war for his country.
This may be as he has had very little experience so at the moment does not know or realise what is in store for him. First impressions suggest he led a quite sheltered private school boy life and he has not really grow up quite yet and still thinks war is one big game of cowboys and Indians. This could be a useful asset to have, as he is strong and will go into battle with enthusiasm and keep the atmosphere jolly and content. Although his lack of experience could be a disadvantage he is very dedicated to his role and will put it a lot of effort to succeed in everything that is needed in him.
This is a good quality and puts him well on his way to be a fine officer, as he possesses all the qualities that make a good officer at this early stage. Raleigh’s arrival also unearths one of Osbones attribute’s to his title as a good officer. He has the ability to accept a new officer which will be very useful in a time of high bloodshed and loss of life. He shows a liking to Raleigh and bonds well with him. It is a very good thing for an officer to be able to do as it shows he will work well as a team with people that he does not know well and he does not look down on people of lower rank than him-self like Raleigh.
Trotter is a rather plump addition to the team but he works hard and is a worth while man to have in the company. Unlike other officers he will not delegate all the bad jobs to other men and he pulls his weight well around the trench. This will make other officers very fond of him which is very important in the trench environment as things will get tough and they need all the support from each other that they can get. Trotter is not the main man in the company but he still is a first-rate officer. Although he keeps himself to himself, he copes with the strain well by eating and counting down the days on a tick list.
He is a serious old chap but he will always do the job set to the best of his ability ” I won’t let you down”. This is a very good quality to have because its always the effort and the thought that counts in life. As long as you try hard and do the best you can people will respect you for it and commend you in many ways. Hibbert, compared to the other men, is a prime example of a bad officer. He complains of a pain in his eye, but the other men say he is just trying to “wriggle home. ” He shows no commitment to his duties at all and does not put in any effort.
I personally think that Hibbert is just a burden and the company could do well without him. Another man on the company who needs a bit of motivation to do the best for his soldiers is the Colonel, he is extremely good at the planning and attacking side of things but does not like to mix with the soldiers a lot. He needed Stanhope to push him to go up top and wish the men luck before the attack “I think they would appreciate a word or two”. He could be seen as a bad officer for this but I have come to the conclusion that he has done this on purpose to keep a clear mind and focused for the job.
With all the deaths of his men he has to see, if he made friendships he’d brake down within a week. So he is a good officer even if he is a little cold, the men might not see this but he is doing it for their best interests. Most of the officers in this dug out have some excellent qualities that make them good officers but none of them is a perfect or ideal officer. They all are individual in their ways but have something about them, which really has an impact on the other men at this hard time.
Without one another they would find it hard to cope as each of them have an asset that improves the situation they are in. They work as a team with each other. As a group they hold most of the qualities an ideal and good officer needs in my opinion, experience, motivation, good at keeping moral up, hard work, lots of effort and importantly they all do their best for their country and fight for the right reasons. None of them are prejudice to one another despite their social status or background and they respect and value everyone’s company and friendships.