Journey’s End

Year 12 English Lit students, this is the place for your analysis and discussion of the relationship between the sequence from the BBC production of Journey’s End that we watched yesterday and Sheriff’s script.

I’d recommend composing your ideas in a Google document or word processor then paste what your work I to the comments below. If you compose directly into the comments box there is a chance of losing everything if there’s a problem saving the comment. Start by quickly adding some immediate and obvious impressions. Before you add anything, check to see what comments other people have added so that we don’t end up with lots of people just saying the same thing. Once some ideas have begun to emerge, you can comment on others’ ideas by developing, refining or questioning them. Hopefully this will spark some discussion that will generate further ideas of your own that you can add as new comments, rather than replies to previous ones.

I look forward to reading your ideas, and joining in when I get the chance later.

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47 Responses to Journey’s End

  1. Freya Beevers-Cowling says:

    My comments aren’t working!!

  2. Freya Beevers-Cowling says:

    my comments aren’t working

  3. Freya Beevers-Cowling says:

    Ok now they are. The quote “here’s to good health” is said by the Sargeant Major. I a sense, I think this contributes to an ironic juxtaposition as the Sargeant Major is aware of teh attack that will put the lives of Raleigh. A day light attack where the risks of casulaties are high- good health is a very limited possiblity It also omits the “win the war” when the plans of the attack are discussed. The implies a sense of optimism and the fact that is missing totally changes the tone of the play. I have some other ideas that I sent to Sir but I’ll wait for some of your ideas so I don’t have to have a really long conversation with myself. Someone else say something to me.

    • Mr Heald says:

      Yes: where is everyone?!

      I think you’re right about the ironic juxtaposition, but is it irony on the part of the Sgt Major, or is it dramatic irony in the sense that he is sincere, but we are aware of the likely fatal outcome of such a raid?

  4. Freya Beevers-Cowling says:

    also small plug here to my blog I think. Don’t judge me- I havent written anything on it for a while

  5. Samantha Good says:

    The BBC production of Journeys End has a more serious tone to the characters and the story. In Sheriff’s script of Journeys End, Stanhope has ‘banter’ and Sheriff uses comedy to show the effects of war. However, to show how serious some effects could be, the BBC don’t use comedy in the same way. Stanhope uses more of a violent approach towards Hibbert because he understands how he feels, however he might not understand how to deal with it.BBC take more of a serious approach to the script and add extra scenes into it, maybe to intensify the truths of trench warfare where as Sheriff might take more of a joking approach, adding banter to make it more appealing to its target audience. Personally, the jokes in the script version draw me into wanting to know and understanding better the play, rather than the rather morbid and boring BBC version that has just raw facts and serious acting in it.

    • Mr Heald says:

      You have some good observations there, Samantha. An assumption that underlies your response is that the use of comedy inevitably makes a work less serious than would otherwise be the case. Is that necessarily the case, do you think?

      • Brad France says:

        If I may.. I don’t think that is the general case, a play can be funny and serious at the same time but I think that in some cases humour can detract from the intended seriousness of a particular piece

      • Brad France says:

        No, when I consider how Sheriff uses humour in the script itself and how the BBC interprets the script I think that the script itself manages to be serious while still maintaining some humour; whereas the BBC interpretation just seems quite monotonous with fewer (if any) instances of humour

        • Mr Heald says:

          ” I think that the script itself manages to be serious while still maintaining some humour” – there still seems to be an underlying assumption here (implicit in the words ‘manages’, ‘still’ and ‘some’) that humour inevitably detracts from seriousness.

          How might you respond to the contention that the humour in JE is fundamental to its ‘seriousness’? That the humour is used with serious intent?

          • Brad France says:

            I think that might be the easiest way of looking at that particular question.. I think (although others may disagree) that the humour that is used acts as a sort of independent feature of the script; yet still acts as a type of base for some of the more serious parts of the script. Anyone got any examples, or anyone else have their opinion on this??

  6. Brad France says:

    Just as a general observation, ive noticed that the BBC dramatisation of Journeys end cuts out huge chunks of dialogue that we see in the actual playscript. When i compared them, the script had obviously been heavily abridged into what seemed to be a ‘bare bones’ most-important-parts only adaptation. I can understand why it was done (to save time, money and effort) but i cant see why so much has been cut out, especially when there are some parts which have been created from scratch (such as the very opening segment)

    • Freya Beevers-Cowling says:

      I see it as a mixture of the two to be honest. I think the serious tone would be needed if a lot of the humour was actually in the screen adaptation rather than being omitted like it was. It would be interesting to see how actors would interpret it if all the dialogue was actually there

      • Lauren Layhe says:

        I agree with you both here. I’ve also noticed that Mason does not seem to be portrayed in the same humorous way in the BBC production as he is in the text! There’s no where near as many of the little comments which we found funny in the text, for example the part in Act 1 where he is apologising to Osborne about the mis up between pineapples and apricots. Lines such as “Yes, sir. ‘E said a leopard can’t change its spots, sir.” I thought were funny as Mason was making a drama over a tin of fruit when he is in the front line where “minnies” are coming over left right and centre. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

        • Brad France says:

          I see what you mean, there doesn’t seem to be any of the wit that mason has in the script in the BBC adaptation – could it have been done intentionally? Or could it be a product of trying to give the adaptation a more further tone?

        • Gina Gavin says:

          Yes I agree with Lauren here. Throughout Sheriffs play I found Mason to be portrayed as quite a comical character who also seems a little bit slow? anyone else agree? Especially when talking to Trotter about the cutlets, and Trotter has to tell him he was joking when he said “Well it wont let me cut it.” This bit in particular I would see as being quite funny, but like Freya said in the BBC version most of the scenes have been cut out so I think its hard to interpret whether the characters are similar. Also I noticed that the majority of the characters all seem quite serious, for me it didn’t really relate to the script we had been reading.

          • Mr Heald says:

            Can you sustain the view that the screen version “didn’t … relate” to the script? What is your understanding of the word ‘relate’ as you are using it here?

            Your point about the joke with the cutlets is a good one, and yes, I think Mason can be seen as a little ‘slow’ with the others joking at his expense. Do you think that is the only plausible reading of his character?

          • Ange Gakwaya says:

            In a sense I do agree with you that the characters in the BBC production don’t relate to the script, however not just the subject of humour and seriousness as you say. Taking the example of Stanhope, I found myself sympathetic towards his character (which I know isn’t the usual response) however, this particular dialogue when he comforts and empathises with Hibbert presents different interpretation and emotion as readers and as viewers.
            STANHOPE: Because I feel the same – exactly the same! Every little noise up there makes me feel – just as you feel. Why didn’t you tell me instead of talking about neuralgia? We all feel like you do sometimes, if you only knew. I hate and loathe it all. Sometimes I feel I could just lie down on this bed and pretend I was paralysed or something – and couldn’t move – and just lie there till I died – or was dragged away.
            The tone is obvious on screen as he speaks softly (possibly trying to use his voice as comfort to Hibbert) and bares his feelings to him. I understand it must have been difficult for Stanhope to admit sharing the same feelings as someone he considered a coward. As part of an audience, you feel sorry that Stanhope is suffering alongside the soldiers, yet he is the one to pick up and restore them. However, the use of language and punctuation in the highlighted section of the script is completely cut out of the production; if this had been included in the production i feel the scene would have lacked sentiment.

          • Mr Heald says:

            I’m really interested in your assertion that it isn’t “the usual response” to be sympathetic to Stanhope. What is your impression of ‘the usual response’ based on? We are heading directly into that crucial territory of differing readings here, because I absolutely do sympathise with Stanhope, and while I think I can see why some people may not, I need to hear why, in what ways, and on the basis of what evidence.

            I think you’re reading of the quotation you have used begins quite well, and I think you rightly suggest that the audience is likely to sympathise with Stanhope’s confession of fear at this point, but to be honest you lose me completely with that last sentence. I’m not entirely clear exactly what you are saying has been cut, and why you think it’s inclusion would have caused the scene to ‘lack sentiment’. In what sense are you using the word ‘sentiment’ here? It is usually more-or-less synonymous with ‘feeling’, but I don’t think you’ve made the case for anything in Stanhope’s speech there being likely to *remove* or even *reduce* sentiment had it been included.

          • Natalie McMenamin says:

            I agree with Gina here, as in the BBC production I feel Mason is portrayed as quite a ‘timid’ character, whereas in the play it seems he’s simply just a bit slow. For example, in the play the scene about the salt and it being delivered could be seen as quite funny because it ‘comes out of nowhere’ and is sort of out of context, but in the BBc version I interpret Mason as being more nervous and feeling as though he has to apologise all the time.

          • Mr Heald says:

            I prefer, I think, to see Mason as quick witted, but with a very droll sense of humour. I haven’t put in the effort to tell whether this is a sustainable interpretation. The best way of testing it out is to see if evidence to the contrary can be countered, so please have a go at showing me how I’m wrong and that Mason is indeed slow, and the unwitting butt of the others’ humour, and I’ll see if I can rebut it.

  7. Hayley Guyler says:

    I personally think that Stanhope comes across in the BBC production as quite sensitive. When he is told that Raleigh and Uncle will be on the front line for the day light attack, he seems quite protective about Raleigh going, this may be because he has realised that he isn’t a bad kid, since he put nice things about him in the letter. I think he is under a lot of pressure and so I can now understand why is does turn to drink. Especially as men such as Hibbert can not cope. Although Stanhope does know what his is going through, I think he doesn’t want to let the Sergeants down. The BBC production, differs from the play as the use of humour isn’t as obvious, i’m assuming that the BBC wanted the viewing audience to see ‘the harsh realities of war’ and that ‘war is futile’ when in fact RC Sherriff himself knew that this wasn’t necessarily the case, as the men did have ‘banter’ with one another as seen when Uncle puts Stanhope to bed.
    Hardy’s character also differs, in the play he is humorous with his sock and song about women, whereas this was cut out of the BBC production, he was serious and quite a bland character. I think the BBC production should of added that scene in, as it then makes the audience see that it isn’t all ‘doom and gloom’ the men do have a laugh with one another.

    • Brad France says:

      I can agree with that after reading the very last pages of the script; I thought sheriff showed Stanhope in a completely different light to what he did when we looked at act 1. He seems generally more sensitive and the events that happen on the final scene of act 3 (I shan’t reveal anything in case some of you haven’t read it) make him act in a completely different way.

    • Lauren Layhe says:

      I agree with Hayley’s comment here about Stanhope being portrayed as a sensitive character. I think this is highlighted in the scene of the BBC production where in his own strange way, Stanhope tries to comfort Hibbert when he is crying. Yes, he does point a gun at him but I think in Stanhope’s head this is just his way of trying to get through to Hibbert and make him understand that he cannot desert the rest of the men. His caring behaviour continues as he asks Mason to bring Stanhope some honey and tea. This differs to the actual text, where Stanhope only really seems to show his true feelngs around his uncle, Osborne.

      • Mr Heald says:

        Are you sure about that? It’s onion tea ( a joke about using the same utensils as were used for making onion soup) not honey and tea, and it’s definitely in the text: “STANHOPE: All right, Mason. Bring two cups of onion tea. One for Mr Hibbert.”

        And before that, it seems to me that Stanhope can be said to show his true feelings to Hibbert:

        “[HIBBERT takes the mug and drinks. STANHOPE sits down beside HIBBERT and puts an arm round his shoulder.]
        I know what you feel, Hibbert. I’ve known all along –
        HIBBERT: How can you know?
        STANHOPE: Because I feel the same – exactly the same! Every little noise up there makes me feel – just as you feel. Why didn’t you tell me instead of talking about neuralgia? We all feel like you do sometimes, if you only knew. I hate and loathe it all. Sometimes I feel I could just lie down on this bed and pretend I was paralysed or something – and couldn’t move – and just lie there till I died – or was dragged away.
        HIBBERT: I can’t bear to go up into those awful trenches again –
        STANHOPE: When are you due to go on?
        HIBBERT: Quite soon. At four.
        STANHOPE: Shall we go on together? We know how we both feel now. Shall we see if we can stick it together?”

        What do you think?

        • Natalie McMenamin says:

          I agree here, I think Stanhope really does let his true feelings come out as he knows it will help Hibbert to know that someone is feeling the same way as him (especially because it’s Stanhope, as he is not exactly known for being ‘afraid’ but is instead worshipped by his men).

    • Mr Heald says:

      Are you suggesting, Hayley, that you think Stanhope doesn’t seem as sensitive to you in the script as in the BBC production? If that is what you mean, what is there on screen that gives this impression that can’t be inferred from the text?

  8. Mr Heald says:

    Discussion so far has remained at a fairly general level. Can we start pinning it down to specifics? For example you might quote lines from the play that are cut from the TV production and comment on the significance of their omission. You might identify lines that have been delivered in a particular way, and identify how delivering them differently might have a different effect. Remember, we are looking for you to link the AO3 requirement to acknowledge and respond to different readings, to the AO1/2 demands of interpreting and analysing language, form and structure using appropriate terminology.

  9. Jemma Moralee says:

    The BBC production of Journey’s Ends displays how many people saw the war; depressing and serious. The production tries to make it seem as realistic as possible this is why there are differences between the BBC’s take and the actual script of A Journey’s End. A difference noticed straight away is in the script it starts as an introduction to the characters in the key setting the dugout. You are first introduced To Hardy and Osborne, whereas in the BBC production it is started differently. The BBC production starts off as soldiers being transported to the front line, it shows the horrible conditions of the war, it is trying to make it more realistic as a production this is why it didn’t straight away go to the dugout scene, just like in the original play script. The introduction also shows the soldiers being spoken to by a sergeant in whom he is enforcing them on the expectations and procedures of the war. Although personally I do not see that the BBC production displays the humour that the script clearly shows. The script presents banter between the characters, Hardy shows sign of humour in the play but in the production this is more or less scrapped because the BBC are trying to make it seem realistic to the viewers at home, this is why they are presenting a serious, depressing mood throughout because people do not think that the soldiers could of ever been happy in the war, this is why the humour isn’t transferred onto the BBC production. The banter that the officers have towards Mason but not including him in it is carried through onto the production. In part 2 when he serves the meals, the officers are still throwing sarcastic comments to Mason as he is lower class in the workforce to all of them. Another thing I have noticed is that the BBC production tends to cut off a lot of the script, as the “tea” joke isn’t mentioned or the scene with the sock at the beginning is also not shown.

  10. Mr Heald says:

    You use the word ‘realistic’ number of times, here. It’s a word we tend to take for granted, but what do you actually mean by it, and in what sense do you think the production is more ‘realistic’ than the script?

    The sock is shown at the beginning, but what is different about the on-screen portrayal when compared with Sheriff’s stage direction?

    You say the BBC production cuts off “a lot of the script” but the only example you give is the one mentioned in class. What other examples of cuts have you noticed? What about other alterations?

    • Brad France says:

      I noticed a smallish segment in act 3 (scene 1 or 2) where Raleigh and Osborne are talking about the area where they live was missing, but as for specifics I couldn’t really tell you, I only got a quick look at that section – did anyone else notice this??

      • Mr Heald says:

        I suspect you are in a tiny minority (perhaps of one!) who have got as far as Act 3. Maybe someone will be along with a comment shortly that will make me eat my words.

        On Thursday I was watching the BBC version with the script in front of me. It was a very illuminating way of getting a sense of the distinctive ‘reading’ of the play that the screen adaptation offers, not only in terms of seeing bits cut/altered/added, but also in making me consider closely how lines that were delivered verbatim from the script could have been performed quite differently.

        I do have some examples in mind, but I’d rather see what you lot come up with before wading in myself at this stage.

  11. Isabella O'Reilly says:

    From first reading part of the play journey’s end to then watching an interpretation from the TV it is very different and gives a whole new portrayal of the characters. From the very beginning of the TV program there is a clear distinction between that and the script, the humorous side that we as readers have become well accustomed to seems to be have been replaced by a more serious tone. The BBC’s production portrays the ‘reality’ of war and the general opinion of most people now a days where as the script is a lot more lighthearted and many of these were cut out by the BBC. Even though the BBC’s portrayal is not as entertaining as the script, certain aspects are intensified, e.g. Stanhope putting the gun to Hibberts head which triggers an emotional reaction from the audience and reflects the harsh, gruesome and morbid side of the war which is almost over looked in the script.

    • Mr Heald says:

      Can you demonstrate, using quotations from the text, how that incident is less intense as portrayed in the script?

      • Rebecca Hart says:

        I do agree however I think that the BBC’S portrayal of the incident with Stanhope and Hibbert’s argument is intense also. Despite it not being a quote, the stage directions show this such as ‘STANHOPE turns and thrusts him roughly back’ as well as Hibbert defending himself against Stanhope as ‘HIBBERT raises his stick and strikes blindly at STANHOPE who catches the stick, tear’s it from HIBBERT’S hands, smashes it across his knee, and throws it on the ground’. Also, after this altercation which leads to the Stanhope putting the gun to Hibbert’s head, Stanhope does threaten Hibbert’s life whilst explaining in great detail of how he would kill him as he also did in the play as he says ‘if you went, I’d have you shot—for deserting. It’s a hell of a disgrace’ and he goes on. I know this isn’t backing up a less intense portrayal of the incident but I didn’t see it that way.

        • Isabella O'Reilly says:

          After rereading Hibbert and Stanhopes altercation i agree with you, the script is no less intense that the BBC’s interpretation.

        • Mr Heald says:

          I think you’re right Rebecca, personally. I find it difficult to see how anyone who has closely read that episode in the script can envisage it as being less ‘intense’ (a problematic term that maybe needs unpacking?) than the screen version we saw, which of course is a performance *of* that script! though with some deviations from it. What I’m looking for, you have got part of the way towards, in that you have identified and quoted specific details from the text (what did you mean by saying ‘it’s not a quote’, by the way?), but still we could do with more focused close analysis of Sheriff’s technique, and how that has been interpreted in the BBC performance.

  12. Elly Gray says:

    There are very clear distinctions between the BBC version of Journeys End and the actual script itself, I think BBC are trying too hard to make it a serious show. I feel the reason Sheriff wrote Journeys End with some humour in it was to indicate more accurately the attitudes of the men in the trenches themselves. BBC maybe feel it would be disrespectful to make any jokes about the war and that they must in fact highlight the ‘horrors’. I think that most TV channels feel the same, I think I’ve only seen Black Adder that is a humorous show about the war.

    • Mr Heald says:

      Have you read the rest of the comments, Elly? I think discussion has already moved on from this fairly general overview (though the Blackadder link is pertinent).

      Can you try, as I asked, to identify some *specific* points of comparison and contrast?

      (This applies to all of you, by the way, not just Elly. )

  13. Olivia-Grace Davies says:

    I feel like the introduction to A Journey’s End in the BBC version appears to have a rather negative affect on the audience. Their use of lighting and music choice creates a depressing and uncomfortable atmosphere, which leaves the audience feeling dejected. However the introduction into R.C.Sherriff’s version gets straight into the scene in the trenches with Hardy, his introduction with the sock creates a comic atmosphere for the audience, which makes the introduction of the play more enjoyable and entertaining to watch.

    • Mr Heald says:

      Olivia, I’m sure you’re right, but where are the specifics? What examples can you find of significant details from the script that have been omitted, or played in a way that gives a particular slant, when others are possible? This was supposed to be a way into close comparative analysis of alternative readings (a key AO3 skill) supported by the kind of detailed exploration and interpretation of language, form and structure, using appropriate terminology, that are required by AOs 1 & 2.

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