Theatre / Journey's End

A play written by R.C. Sherriff and first performed in 1928, it tells the story of a group of middle-ranked members of the British army. The overall premise is "War is both unpleasant and unnecessary." However, it is shot through with a vein of dark humour, particularly from Mason and Trotter, making it ring much truer than many of its doom-and-gloom imitators.

The main characters are:
  • Capt. Dennis Stanhope, the Shell-Shocked Veteran (a rather tragic example, he's in his early 20s). He drinks heavily to deal with the war but won't take any time off because of a sense of duty and a fear that everyone he knows at home, including his fiancée, will find out what he's become.
  • Lt. Osborne, Stanhope's fatherly second in command
  • Second Lt. Jimmy Raleigh, Stanhope's old schoolfriend and future brother-in-law
  • Second Lt. Trotter, the token working-class officer
  • Second Lt. Hibbert, an officer who's as traumatised as Stanhope. He hopes to get home by faking illness.
  • Pvt. Mason, the officers' unnamed Deadpan Snarker chef

This play includes these tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Stanhope. The first thing we ever hear about him is that he's "drinking like a fish".
  • Anti-Hero: Stanhope is a heroic soldier and A Father to His Men, but his alcoholism and the stress of the war have left him with a darker side.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Raleigh regards Stanhope as this from their school days
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Ends just as an all out assault by the Germans happens. With the surviving characters fates being left ambiguous.
  • Chef of Iron: Mason is the officers' cook, but he's a soldier all the same. When the time to go over the top comes, he puts them away and joins the rest of his unit.
  • Cool Old Guy: Osbourne is viewed as one by the other characters.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Mason doesn't go a single scene without saying something. He's even brave enough to speak out of turn to the officers.
    • The German soldier they capture spends his entire interrogation scene making fun of the officer's German.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Stanhope is implied to cross this by the end.
  • Downer Ending
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Osbourne is called "uncle" by most of the other officers, welcomes Raleigh, defends Stanhope's alcoholism to other officers and generally acts and a father figure to the other officers. Stanhope even jokes about him cleaning the dugout with a feather duster.
    • Defied when Stanhope rages at Raleigh for "feeding with the men"; if he gets too familiar with them, they won't respect him.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: A justified example in Stanhope, as the stress of the war has left him a broken man.
  • Sad Clown: Hardy and Hibbert both try to snark and put on a cheerful face, but are clearly as traumatised as anyone. Everyone is trying to be one in the meal scene, by pretending to cheerfully enjoy a meal while pretending they aren't in a muddy hole, just days from a massive attack just after they've lost Osbourne (except for Raleigh who can't bring himself to).
  • They Really Do Love Each Other: A truly tragic example. Stanhope shows just how deeply he cares for Raleigh when the latter is dying of his injuries. When Raleigh dies, he breaks completely.
  • War Is Hell: It shows the conditions of the trenches quite candidly, based on R. C. Sherif's own experiences. And the officers have it relatively easy.