What do we learn about the realities of war from R C Sherriff’s play ‘Journey’s End’?


What do we learn about the realities of war from R C Sherriff’s play ‘Journey’s End’?

Rebecca Christmas

R C Sherriff uses a variety of techniques to convey the realities of war to the audience in his play Journey’s End.

One technique used by R C Sherriff so that the audience may learn about the realities of war in Journey’s end is his use of sound effects and light which are shown in the stage directions. An example of the use of sound effects is in Act 3 Scene 2, “There is silence except for the rumble of guns” this suggests to the audience that war is always present in the lives of the soldiers because even during “silence” the rumble of guns is still heard. This also highlight that war is inescapable as it fills every part of the lives of the soldiers even in silence. Another stage direction used by Sherriff is “Then comes the thin whistle and crash of falling shells; first one by itself, then two, almost together. Quicker and quicker they come, till the noise mingles together in a confused turmoil.” This implies to the audience that not only the raid itself but also the soldiers’ lives have been completely changed by war as they are now in “complete turmoil”; the word turmoil suggests that their lives have been turned upside-down and that all meaning and purpose has been lost in the chaos that is war. Personification is used in the word “whistle” which could suggest there is a connection between man and war as men tend to whistle; it could also imply that the war has become an uncontrollable abnormal being only satisfied by killing.

R C Sherriff also uses a range of characters to show the realities of war to the audience, he uses the character of Raleigh to show disillusioned young men were when they went to the front line for example he says “Were you and I picked-specially?... I say!” This highlights to the audience the innocence and naivety of not only Raleigh but many of the young men who fought during the war. This is also shown in Curtis and Elton’s ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’, “Oh, now, come on, Cap! It may be a bit




I must say that i thought that was fantastic, i am currently revising for my Journey's End exam and this proved to be very useful to me as you have included most of the relevent points.