Journey's End

Essay by harley07B+, January 2008

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Journey’s End by RC Sherriff is a play about life in the trenches of a group of officers behind British lines during World War 1. The characters live in a world of fear, disillusionment, friendship, loyalty, naivety, guilt and abandonment. I am going to examine which of these officers would be the most fitting leader of the company. I will base my opinion on the personal qualities such as leadership, temperament, empathy, strength, courage and upbringing.

This three act play is based on true events in 1918 in frontline trenches where you see the reality of death. In this play the company are waiting on a German attack. RC Sherriff builds up to this by using different methods such as time. We empathise with the men as they await their “Journey’s End”Hibbert is not a leader in anyway as he tries to be “sent down” sick and out of the war, by saying he has neuralgia.

Later, he says he has a hangover and can not go up into the trenches from the officer’s dugout. Stanhope says “another little worm trying to wriggle home”. Hibbert has a wealthy upbringing you can tell by the way he speaks. Hibbert shows some bravery as well, because as he tries to get sent home, Stanhope threatens to shoot him in the head. Stanhope says “You don’t deserve to be shot by accident – but id save you the disgrace of the other way” and Hibbert calls his bluff or shows his bravery “Go on then shoot”. To sum him up he would not make a good captain because he is a coward in some sense.

Trotter could never make a leader because he is a much lower class than the others. His accent and way of speaking give him away. He has a well-developed cockney sense of humour. Trotter is a laid back person and always cheery as nothing seems to bother him. He likes his food and gets on well with Mason the cook, because they are the same class. There is no doubt about his bravery and ability to lead men as Stanhope gives him a share if jobs. Trotter isn’t a very imaginative man which is a major down point, in Stanhope’s opinion.

I think Osborne would make a very good leader as all the men look up to him and show him a great amount of respect. “You’ll find the men call me Uncle” Osborne says to Raleigh as he joins the company. He is a brave and very loyal man to Stanhope. Osborne is very friendly as well, as soon as Raleigh arrives he says “My names Osborne. You only have to call me sir in front of the men”. He would not be able to become leader because he is an older man. “Uncle” provides Stanhope with confidence and willing ear he so desperately needs. Stanhope has no choice but to pick Osborne for the raid and willing obeys Stanhope. He leads the mission very well and succeeds but sadly dies. He if not the bravest one of the bravest.

Stanhope the company commander, makes a very good leader, but has a drinking problem. He is very experienced been on the frontline for three years. He’s popular with all the men. He’s honest, he admits to Hibbert how he feels: ”Because I feel the same –exactly the same” He’s a very aggressive person as well and threatens to shoot Hibbert because he is going to leave and starts screaming at Raleigh: “ You bloody little swine ! You think I don’t care you think you’re the only soul that cares” “To forget you little fool - to forget”. He is a caring person as well, as Raleigh lies dying, he helps him and comforts him. The only problem with Stanhope is he’s always drunk.

I think Raleigh would make the best leader because he is honest and in the raids proved himself a good leader. Raleigh and Stanhope are both upper class men. If Raleigh survived he would have become a good leader because he had loyalty and honesty. The only thing holding him back was his own inexperience and immaturity. He thinks the raid is going to be very easy: “How topping if we both get an M.C”, but infact a lot of men were lost.

In my opinion, Raleigh was the most suitable leader because he was a bit immature and inexperienced and that meant he did not have fear like Stanhope had, he was also a loyal and trusting friend to his commanding officers. The fact that he died took away any chance of him becoming a lead