Emotions about War in Sherriff’s ‘Journey’s End’ and Curtis and Elton’s ‘Blackadder’

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Sherriff’s ‘Journey’s End’ and Curtis and Elton’s ‘Blackadder’ are both plays which are set in World War One and focus on only a small number of characters. A set up like this allows the audience to observe the various emotions felt by characters towards the War, ranging from jingoism to consciousness objection. Both plays present a shift in the general emotions of characters as they spend more time in the War. The playwrights explore these emotions in different ways, and I will be considering this.

In both ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Blackadder’ we find characters who are extremely jingoistic concerning their attitudes towards the War. The character of George in ‘Blackadder’ possesses similar qualities to Raleigh in ‘Journey’s End’ in that the
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Attitudes towards the Germans is very different in ‘Journey’s End’ where the enemy is humanised. The format of a play allows for every-day discussion and colloquial language to be used, meaning that we can gain an insight into the true feelings of soldiers on the Front Line. The men discuss how the Germans must be ‘sitting in their dug-outs thinking how quite it is’ which allows us to relate the two sets of soldiers. Even the patriotic character of Raleigh admits that the Germans are ‘really quite decent’ suggesting to the audience that even those who wanted to fight for their country didn’t necessarily detest the enemy. Since ‘Journey’s End’ was written only 10 years after the end of the War, it may have been difficult for Sherriff to include the humour seen in the more recent ‘Blackadder’ without causing some offence. Furthermore Sherriff himself fought in World War One, whereas Curtis and Elliot were not alive meaning that he possesses more of an insight into the feelings of men in the trenches. Overall, we can see that in both plays there are patriotic characters, however ‘Blackadder’ exaggerates this fact more than ‘Journey’s End’ predominantly through the use of humour and the character of George.

One of the reasons for the patriotism seen within the characters in ‘Journey’s End’ and ‘Blackadder’ is because of their naïvety. World War One was a watershed in warfare; everything changed because of it. Baldrick from ‘Blackadder’ comments

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