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Journey’s End. R.C. Sherriff. Robert Cedric Sherriff. Born 1896 – Surrey Wounded in 1917 during WW1 in France He wrote 6 earlier plays that were not successful ‘Journey’s End’ was his 7 th play and was first performed in 1928

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journey s end

Journey’s End

R.C. Sherriff

robert cedric sherriff

Robert Cedric Sherriff

Born 1896 – Surrey

Wounded in 1917 during WW1 in France

He wrote 6 earlier plays that were not successful

‘Journey’s End’ was his 7th play and was first performed in 1928

Sherriff died in 1975 – this play is considered his greatest achievement

analysing a play

Themes

Form & Structure

Plot

Lighting & sound

Play

characters

Analysing a Play

Stage directions

Language

Context

play title

Play title

The play was originally going to be called ‘Suspense’ or ‘Waiting’

Why do you think Sherriff settled on ‘Journey’s End’ ?

social historical context

Social & Historical Context

Written in the late 1920’s

Most audience members at this time went to the theatre to escape their lives

After the war the class system was undergoing massive change – commercially successful plays had to appeal to the masses

An all-male play about war was an unexpected success

Winston Churchill was a fan of the play and invited Sherriff to Downing Street to discuss it

social historical context6

Social & Historical Context

It would be a good idea to take a look at some of the following to strengthen your understanding of WW1 and the experiences of those who experienced trench warfare:

The war poetry of Owen & Sassoon

www.1914-1918.net

setting of the play

Setting of the play

Set in St Quentin, France 1918

Starts Monday 18th March

3 days later Germany launched ‘Operation Michael’

Historically accurate rather than ‘anti war’

Life in the trenches

The audience of the day would remember the experience first hand

staging of the play

Staging of the play

The setting is naturally suited to the stage

Warren-like nature of dugouts

Cramped close conditions

Hardships – exposed to elements

Camaraderie of shared experience

Single staging with ‘off stage’ locations inferred

characters

The play explores the psychological effect of war on different kinds of personalities

  • It also investigates the class system and how it impacts the life of the men in the trenches
  • The life expectancy of a junior officer in 1916-17 was 6 weeks!

Characters

slide10

James Raleigh

Mason

Young German Soldier

Madge

slide11

Unseen

Highest ranking officer

Commanding Officer of different Company

Commanding Officer of C Company

James Raleigh

2nd Lieutenant

2.I.C.

2nd Lieutenant

Officer

Cook & Servant

Mason

Unseen – Raleigh’s sister & Stanhope’s sweetheart

Young German Soldier

Madge

colonel

Colonel

  • His view of war is as a game
  • He is removed from the horror
  • He seems insensitive
  • He is only following orders himself
  • Contrasts with the respected Stanhope
hardy

Hardy

  • Secondary character
  • He offers the first insight into Stanhope
  • Messy & disorganised
  • Red faced and cheerful
  • Offers a contrast to Stanhope
stanhope

Son of a vicar

  • 21 years old (but seems older)
  • Holder of the Military Cross
  • High personal standards
  • Heavy drinker as a coping mechanism
  • A natural leader
  • No leave in 3 years
  • Survived the battle of Vimy Ridge
  • Hardened but with a tender heart

Stanhope

osborne

The oldest member of c company (45)

  • Married with 2 children
  • Former school master
  • Wise & approachable
  • Loyal and a calming influence
  • A mentor to Stanhope
  • Well liked & trusted
  • Humble – National rugby player

Osborne

trotter

The only officer who has not attended public school

  • Middle aged & ‘homely looking’
  • He comfort eats and is portly!
  • Friendly & jovial
  • Unemotional & uses humour as armour
  • Loyal – becomes 2 I.C.
  • There is more to him than at first appears

Trotter

hibbert

In his early 20s

  • Weak & ineffectual
  • Psychologically ill or cowardly?
  • Exploitative of women
  • A contrast to Raleigh
  • Not part of the ‘brotherhood’ of C company

Hibbert

raleigh

Raleigh

  • Boyish youth
  • Naive & vulnerable
  • An old school friend of Stanhope
  • Courageous
  • Eager to please
  • Hero worships the older men
  • A typical innocent victim of war
mason

Mason

  • Lower class character
  • Soldier & cook
  • Hard working & keen to serve
  • Offers moments of light relief
  • He brings normality to the madness of war
plot 1

Plot 1

Stanhope’s second in command, Osborne enters the dugout to take over from Hardy, the captain of the leaving company. Hardy talks about Stanhope as a drunkard and Osborne defends him.

plot 2

Plot 2

A new officer, Raleigh arrives and we find out about his links with Stanhope.

Stanhope arrives, calls for whiskey and reacts strangely to Raleigh. Hibbert, another officer, complains of neuralgia.

plot 3

Plot 3

Stanhope tells Osborne about his contempt for Hibbert and concern over Raleigh’s presence. He decides to censor Raleigh’s letters.

plot 4

Plot 4

The men talk about life away from war. We find out that Osborne played rugby for England. Osborne and Stanhope discuss the forthcoming attack. It is expected on Thursday – in 2 days time.

plot 5

Plot 5

Raleigh enters and Stanhope insists on reading his letter home. The letter is read out and we see that it is full of praise for Stanhope.

plot 6

Plot 6

The colonel arrives with news of a raid on the German line that needs to take place the following day. He suggests Osborne and Raleigh should take part in the raid.

plot 7

Plot 7

Hibbert tries to leave but Stanhope threatens to shoot him and then sympathises with him. Hibbert is persuaded to stay and help the others.

plot 8

Plot 8

The officers are told about the raid. Osborne is resigned to his fate, Raleigh is elated and Trotter thinks it is stupid timing.

plot 9

Plot 9

The colonel gives an encouraging talk to the men, promising that Osborne and Raleigh will be awarded a Military Cross for bravery. The raid takes place and Osborne and 6 others die, but a German soldier is taken prisoner.

plot 10

Plot 10

The German prisoner is interrogated and the colonel seems happy but Raleigh is stunned by his experience and Stanhope is bitter.

plot 11

Plot 11

All the officers eat a celebratory dinner, but Raleigh does not join in. Stanhope sends Hibbert to bed. Trotter is made second in command. When Raleigh appears, he and Stanhope argue.

plot 12

Plot 12

The final German attack comes. Raleigh dies as Stanhope looks after him. Just after Stanhope leaves the stage, the dugout collapses into darkness.

structure

Three acts

  • Confined time span
  • Claustrophobic setting
  • Does not follow the rules of a ‘well made play’- instead a series of complications are presented leading to mini climaxes
  • Texture of mood & tone

Structure

slide36

Examiners award candidates who are able to comment on how any specific scene or moment is linked to the rest of the play

  • Think about drama as being holographic – each section comments on the WHOLE text
comic relief

Comic Relief

The obsession with food and public schoolboy conversation is at odds with the horrors of the trenches and can therefore be amusing.

It also makes a point that mental diversions were a survival strategy for the men in war.

symbols

Osborne’s watch

  • Raleigh’s letter
  • Alcohol
  • Osborne’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’
  • Red rags on the barbed wire
  • Osborne’s wedding ring
  • Military Cross
  • The ‘last meal’
  • The sun

Symbols

language style

Realism in theatre as a movement

  • While the language is now dated, it was modern in the 20s
  • The language of Public Schools
  • Mason – cockney accent & dialect
  • Trotter – simple colloquialisms & idioms
  • Osborne – Controlled & reserved
  • Stanhope – restraint & outbursts
  • Raleigh – childlike innocence

Language & style