How does R.C. Sherriff use the character of Stanhope in 'Journey's End' to show the Effects of War?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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We can see the wholly negative effects of war in the way that Stanhope's character has changed. We do not actually see what he was like before his war experiences but we learn a lot through what other characters say about him, and most of all through Raleigh's hero-worship of him. Raleigh remembers him as he was at school, a high-flyer admired by all the other boys, and is shocked to see the change in him as a soldier. He has become very curt and bitter in his manner, and has taken to drinking a good deal. This is his way of coping with the sheer horror of war. We see how vulnerable he really is whenever he confides in Osborne, but after Osborne is killed he retreats even further into himself. He is harshest with Raleigh because he can't bear to have Raleigh see how much he has changed. Raleigh reminds him too much of how things used to be, and so he tries to keep away from him altogether - until in the moving final scene, when Raleigh is fatally injured and he tries to comfort him. In this scene, more than any other, we see the warm, confident, easygoing man that Stanhope used to be, before the war.

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