To all my fellow Lear studiers in my class, if you’ve got a bit of time to spare amongst all your hard English revision I recommend watching this comedy film about an amateur dramatics club putting on King Lear with a faded Hollywood star. It really is amusing and I kept trying to work out which parts of which scene they were doing by the lines (just so I felt it almost counted as revision!!). It’s only up for a short while on iPlayer so do catch it while you can!:)
Thanks to Holly for reminding me to wish you all a happy half term!:)
“During war the change in individuals far outweighs the change in society.”
How do Owen, Faulks and Sherriff compare the change in individuals and society during war through their literary work.
R.C. Sheriff’s ‘Journey’s End’ is a play written in 1929 based on Sheriff’s own experiences in World War One. The play is set in 1918 and focuses on the interaction between British soldiers in the dugout while they anticipate a charge.
The play is based around the premise of waiting for something to happen and Sheriff almost called the play “Waiting” or “Suspense”. Raleigh himself is surprised that they are not doing very much and the silence “I thought there would be an awful row here – all the time.” Sheriff creates tension throughout the whole play by mixing dark humour and solemn facts. The joking around between Hardy and Osborne at the beginning of the play illustrates perfectly how the men use humour to cover the fearful and anxious anticipation towards both the raid and the constant bombings, ““A dugout got blown up and came down in the men’s tea. They were frightfully annoyed.” As well as this the suspense and tension is heightened by the unpredictable and explosive nature of Stanhope’s personality that becomes more erratic, paranoid and argumentative as the play continues.
Stanhope’s overall character changes very little over the course of the play; however it is made very clear that his character has changed since Raleigh last saw him and his levels of anger and paranoia vary. When we are first introduced to Stanhope his clothes are “war-stained”, making it obvious that he has been in this trench for a long time. We also find out that none of the men that Stanhope originally came to war with are still alive, “There’s not a man left who was here when I came,” and the horrors that he has seen has driven him to alcoholism. When most of the soldiers fear war, Stanhope’s major fear is that he is not a hero and that he will not be remembered as one. This fear is more apparent when Raleigh joins his company as he gets very paranoid that Raleigh will tell his sister (Stanhope’s sweetheart) in a letter that he has has turned to drink. When Raleigh has written a letter Stanhope demands that he review it for “censorship” purposes and when Raleigh says that he will “just leave it” Stanhope harshly reprimands him “D’you understand an order? Give me that letter!” Despite Stanhope’s problem with drowning his cowardice in whisky many readers would still admire him for attempting to battle his cowardice instead of giving in and allowing himself to have leave and escape the trench.
Some would argue that Sheriff constructed Raleigh as a character to simply introduce the audience to the other soldiers and the situation they are in; however it seems more likely that the character’s true purpose is to show how war changes an individual. Raleigh shows this both through his reaction to Stanhope’s changed personality and through his own change in personality during the course of the play. Raleigh could be seen to represent the many thousands of boys who left school at the first possible opportunity to go to war. Due to Raleigh’s youth he seems very innocent, he is very obviously in awe of the situation he’s in and the “frightful bit of luck” he’s had in getting into the company of his hero Stanhope. This innocence is lost by the end of the play after he captures a German soldier in a raid that killed Osborne, he becomes much less enthusiastic and subdued. When Stanhope challenges this Raleigh stands up to him, stating that he can’t continue after seeing the things he’s seen, “How can I sit down and eat that – when – [his voice is nearly breaking] – when Osborne’s – lying – out there –”. Sheriff shows the difference in Raleigh through the stage directions, when he’s first introduced he gives a “smile”, does things while “laughing” and is obviously nervous, speaking “hastily”. However at the end of the play he is “lowering his head” and looking “horrified”, showing the obvious change in his physicality and well as his psychological self. After Raleigh gets injured Stanhope stays and reassures him, when Raleigh gets concerns and asks what’s on his legs that is “holding them down” Stanhope lies to him and says that it is only the “shock” to calm him down, showing his compassion towards the young dying boy.
Sheriff forces the audience to empathise with the other officers of the company by giving them distinctive characters and strong friendships that means that when they get injured or die the audience feels upset. Trotter is a stereotypical jolly fat Englishman, “His face is red, fat and round”, which is epitomised in the name ‘Trotter’ which gives connotations with pigs. As well as this the name has an association with butchery and thus one could argue that this is a subtle reference to how the men were butchered in battle and were lead like ‘pigs to slaughter’. Despite his jolly exterior Trotter seems to be the most resilient of the group due to his simple nature, not turning to alcohol for support or taking comfort in literature like Stanhope and Osborne.
Osborne seems to be a father figure, especially shown in his affectionate nickname “Uncle” and his advice to Raleigh, telling him to look at the war as “Romantic” and warning him that Stanhope will act differently compared to how he acted in school, “you mustn’t expect to find him – quite the same” “It – it tells on a man – rather badly –”. He is the eldest of the group, yet he finds comfort by reading and reciting Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, more specifically about a grinning “crocodile” who “welcomes little fishes” into his mouth. Some could argue that through these excerpts Sheriff is foreshadowing Osborne’s death in the charge against the Germans.
Hibbert seems to be a weak character who is very afraid of the charge to come and tries to get sent to hospital because of his “beastly neuralgia” however it could be argued that he is simply against the war effort, his rebellion against Stanhope, “striking a senior officer”, is the only sign of dissent towards authority in the play. At that moment Stanhope threatens to execute him however Hibbert stays strong and Stanhope doesn’t shoot him, stating that they “all feel like [Hibbert does] sometimes” and advises him to turn to alcohol too.
The uniqueness of ‘Journey’s End’ is that it is a war play not based around the action and battles of the war, but simply the interactions between the soldiers when not on duty. This in itself reveals a lot about the plight of the soldiers and the fight that’s occurring however Sheriff focuses more on the psychological effects of war on the soldiers and the friendships that form in the most unlikely place.
Thanks for reading,
Miss Larkin overheard me talk about an interesting Harry Potter blog with somebody in class the other day and I didn’t manage to catch her after class so she suggested I blog them to her as it’s easier! I’ve found these really interesting, even if Ms Morgan doesn’t consider HP to be Literature!
The last one is especially interesting regarding the etymology of spells, all healing spells are in Greek (the language of medicine), work-related spells are in Latin (most English words related to work are derived from Latin!). An interesting example of etymology in the books is “Wingardium Leviosa” – the levitation spell:
wing, from the Old Norse vængr, which referred to the wing of a bird
arduus (Latin), meaning “high” or “steep”
levitas (Latin), meaning “lightness”
Another interesting thing I found out about the book is the use of “chiastic structure” in JKR’s writing, as displayed in the following image:
I know that this isn’t to do with the course but I thought Miss L (and others!) would find this as interesting as I have!
Thanks for reading,
When looking online for critic quotes for my essay I found these two resources really helpful as there is so much there!
Hope they are useful!
When looking for WW1 novels this article came up that I thought seemed interesting! Having not watched this episode in a while I found the videos rather amusing!! Hope you enjoy:)
Originally posted on Metro:
Has there ever been another comedy both as side-splittingly funny and thought-provoking as Blackadder Goes Forth?
This month marks the 25th anniversary of the final episode of one of the greatest British TV shows of all time.
The Blackadder series got off to a slow start in 1983 but by the fourth series the show set during the First World War had transferred from BBC1 and was hugely popular.
As Jem Roberts relates in The True History Of The Blackadder, there was a strong feeling among cast and crew that the horrors of the First World War were still recent enough to make a ‘funny’ ending impossible.
The show somehow made the horrors of war seem real in a way history lessons failed to (Picture: BBC)
The final episode, Goodbyeee, saw Captain Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson), Lieutenant George (Hugh Laurie), Captain Darling (Tim McInnerny) and Private Baldrick (Tony Robinson) going over the…
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