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‘Journey’s End’ by Sherriff

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In ‘Journey’s End’ by Sherriff, he uses a variety of language techniques to create a dramatic ending to the play. Stanhope, in this extract, seems to be much more like what Raleigh made him out to be, as he is more like a friend then a commanding officer. This is shown when Stanhope calls Raleigh ‘Jimmy’, which shows the closeness they once shared, as it is likely to be a nickname. Similarly, Raleigh calls Stanhope ‘Dennis’, to cause the same effect, adding to the final dramatic effect. Furthermore, stage directions such as ‘(rising quickly)’ show that Stanhope is keen to help and care for Raleigh. The diverse sentence structure used by Sherriff, using long and short, affects the pace of the play and the tone. At the beginning of the extract, he is shown that he is suffering, as the sentences are elongated with the use of hyphens, ‘everybody else – up there.’ And ‘-thanks –’. This also contrasts the very last lines he speaks (‘Thanks awfully’), because as his lines decrease in length, his health and fight to live drops until he is finally dead. Pathetic fallacy is used, and is described when Raleigh says ‘it’s so frightfully dark and cold’.

This makes the atmosphere seem grim and unforgiving. Additionally, this very much contrasts the beginning of the play, where outside of the trenches where the cold war was, was juxtaposed with the inner warmth of the trenches; but in this case, the trenches are described as ‘dark’ and ‘cold’, much like the war. This shows that now wherever they go, they are amongst death, and will quickly meet their fate. Also, the plosive alliteration used in the words ‘dark’ and ‘cold’ which brings an explosive tone, relating to gun fire. This reinforces an anxious atmosphere because they are approaching their death faster and faster. The innocence of Raleigh, and his eagerness to fight is moving because even when he is dying, he says ‘I feel rotten lying here – everybody else – up there’, because of his youthfulness which makes the audience feel sympathy for him; and because of the short amount of time he has spent at war.

This is also shown by Stanhope, acting as if there is nothing going on beyond the trenches (‘Sure! I’ll bring a candle…’), which shows that even the commanding officer knows that he is going to fall. We are also made to sympathise with Raleigh by the fact that even after his death, the thudding of shells is said to ‘rise and fall like an angry sea’. This is particularly effective because it shows the insignificance of the deaths of individuals in war, which brings a dramatic ending because it sums up how these characters the audience has grown to know, are in fact of no importance in the big picture.

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