Birdsong and Journey's End

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Compare the ways Sherriff presents the main character of Stanhope in Journey’s End with Faulks’ presentation of Stephen in Birdsong

Both “Journey’s End” by R.C. Sherriff and “Birdsong” by Sebastian Faulks portray their main characters of Stanhope and Stephen in several different ways. These include their ability as a leader, the way that they are introduced, how they are affected by the war and their troubled relationships with women. The contrast between the different forms of literature and the time periods that they were both written in could also affect the overall presentation of the characters, as Sherriff is relying on his own memories and Faulks is relying on accounts. This could alter how the characters are perceived by the
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Faulks could have written him like this to show the transformation in the character between the years, due to the loss of Isabelle and what he has seen during the war. These events may have left Stephen unable to socialise with the men and prove himself as a key figure of authority.

Stanhope is visibly affected by the war, because he drinks, becomes angry with the men and shows a detachment towards everyday life. This could show his cowardice towards war. He tells Osborne that “Whenever I look at anything nowadays I see right through it.” This could be showing Stanhope’s general attitude towards war, as his years of experience could have shown him exactly what the war was really like. By drinking to disguise his cowardice, Stanhope could also be drowning out his true feelings. Sherriff could have written him like this to portray how a soldier coped with the pressures of the war. This could show the audience the true reality of the war, because he seems to show the deterioration of Stanhope throughout the short time period of the play. In contrast to this, Stephen feels disgusted by the war, but he seems curious as to what will happen. He tells Weir that “I am deeply curious to see how much further it can be taken.” This could show Stephen’s general interest in the war, even though he also seems to hate it. An inquisitive nature is implied here, as Faulks could have written him to
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