First produced in 1928, Journey’s End offers a bleak and brutally honest insight into life in the trenches during World War One. It centers around Stanhope, the Commander of an infantry company fighting the Germans in France during 1918. Only in his early twenties, he has been ravaged and dramatically altered by the horrors of leading a company of men to their deaths in a savagely tragic war. He has turned to drinking copious amounts of whisky so that he does not “go mad with fright”. However, when Raleigh--a young, naive, and enthusiastic eighteen year old lieutenant--is recruited into his company, Stanhope’s blissful memories of his past collide with his desperate present. Raleigh hero-worships his older school friend from home and is stunned by the dramatic change in Stanhope’s character. Weaving Stanhope’s struggle for sanity with the differing experiences of several other officers in the trenches, Sherriff’s play provides a bitter commentary on the idiocy and damaging psychological effects of a war which saw very few men return from the front. Indeed, the honest account of war, themes, and relationships within the play still resonate today.
Journey's End guide sections