JOURNEY’S END: HUMOUR AND CONTEXT By Georgia G, Tanisha and Taylor
1915 - Sherriff volunteered as a new recruit and by 1918 he had risen to the rank of captain. In 1917, he almost died suffering from severe injuries in a now famous, terrible battle near to the town of Passchendaele in southern Belgium. He spent just over a month in hospital before returning to fight once more. The theme of ‘Journey’s End’ touched the heart and minds of its audiences by expressing the fear that never went away through the characters. Sherriff has written this play from his own experiences. He has been able to create a fiction book seem realistic and explores the emotions through different characters because the no 2 characters feel the same about the war. They all have different insights.
HUMOUR ‘Cheero. Excuse my sock, wont you ? ’ ‘Certainly. It’s a nice-looking sock. ’ ‘If you promise not to tell anyone what a blasted funk I am. ’ ‘(with a little laugh): No’ ‘Splendid! Now go and have ten minutes’ rest and a smoke – then we’ll go up together and hold each other’s hands – and jump every time a rat squeaks’ Hardy and Osborne have an exchange at the start, where the men were ‘frightfully annoyed’ that their dugout had been blown to bits. Humour is used as well when they describe dirt landing in their tea: ‘There’s nothing worse than dirt in your tea’. The use of humour allows the men to deal with the horror of war.
HUMOUR Very early on, during Hardy’s conversation with Osborne demonstrate the need for relief from everyday horrors of the war. Most of the humour in the play is based around Mason. He has witty responses regarding his cooking, the quality of the food he has made or his standards of hygiene gives the play a more homely quality and helped to relieve the continually building the tension. The use of humour also helps define the surroundings and the men's state of mind. Sherriff's use of humour, is at times, more subtle- for example, near the end of the play, just before the attack when trotter is singing in his dugout Stanhope throws him a few coins as though he were a street performer.
HUMOUR We can also appreciate capacity through humour to triumph in the face of adversity – not to give in to their fears and apprehensions but to rise above them. The realistic use of humour makes the whole situation more human which in turn draws the audience into the world of these men forcing us to care even more about their survival. The humour helps in the creation of the atmosphere of camaraderie which is what has kept the men going in the dugout.
CONTEXT Sherriff wrote Journey’s End in 1928, ten years after the end of World War I. His first audiences would have either fought in the war or lost someone close. This means that the thoughts and feelings felt by those in this time would have been different to the audience 100 years on. R. C Sherriff makes his characters use very deliberately controlled language. This reflects the British ‘stiff upper lip’, but also suggests how the men come to treat an abnormal way. Their use of understatement shows how normal the war has become. Sherriff uses a variety of emotions, one of which being fear, to show the audiences what the men had to go through. Sherriff uses words in the book to describe the wait as ‘Eerie silence’ which was worse than the bombs and attacks that were going off in the background.