R.C sheriff effectively introduces Stanhope using the Hardy, Osbourne dialogue. This dialogue not only establishes that a major enemy offensive is imminent but also serves as a base point for Sheriff in developing Stanhope’s character. The character of Stanhope is discussed, references made to his capacity of heavy drinking but also his line record as a company commander. Stanhope is not introduced personally but rather by an incompetent coworker who seems to touch upon the darkness of Stanhope’s personality. The contrast between Hardy’s and Osborn’s thoughts of Stanhope as a company leader dramatically increases the suspense before the main character is eventually introduced to the audience.
The Osbourne, Raleigh dialogue portrays further information on the character of Stanhope. It is established that at school Stanhope was a severe disciplinarian, being particularly hard on younger boys who smoked cigarettes and drunk whisky.
The introduction of Stanhope and the officer’s first meal together serves to establish various details in the stage direction about Stanhope’s physical appearance and a number of contrasts are suggested: he is strong and broad shouldered but ‘no more than a boy’; He is good looking but ‘dark shadows can be licensed under his eyes’. His mood is significant and illustrates at once the dichotomy conveyed in the Hardy-Osborne dialogue because he criticizes the untidy and slack regime of hardy whilst calling for a bottle of whisky. In this he is typically forthright, ‘dam the soup! Bring me some whisky!’
Sheriff effectively creates a moment of great dramatic impact when Stanhope first sees Raleigh: ‘Stanhope (in a low voice) how did you – get here?’ this brief moment of tension is the first of many crises in the play when the relationship of Stanhope and his officers is tested to the limit. Significantly this crisis is resolved by Osborne who talks about their food. This also serves to introduce the corpulent character Trotter whose banter with Mason frequently affords some comic relief.
After the initial embarrassment of Stanhope’s silence, conversation turns to details of their food. Throughout the whole play the subjects of the conversation provide welcome relief from moments of conflict between the characters. For a modern audience less used to the formality of dining, these scenes maybe slightly amusing.
The dramatic structure of Journey’s End is sensitively craft throughout the work Sheriff orchestrates, numerous tensions gradually build up to their climax and are then resolved.
At the end of Act 1 Stanhope’s deepest fears that Raleigh will reveal his weaknesses to his fiancée make him pronounce a fierce and bitter attack, ‘What’s that bloody little prig of a boy matter? Do you see?’
As well as the obvious relationship, and source of conflict, between Stanhope and Raleigh, Stanhope also has a close relationship with Osborne, the ‘uncle like’ figure in the play. R.C Sheriff makes it seem inevitable that Osborne and Raleigh, ‘the boy with everything to live for’ should be doomed. Ironically this is contrasted with Stanhope who has survived luckily for years in the desperate hope of returning back home.
Overcome with drink Stanhope resolves to censor any letters Raleigh may have written. Exhausted Stanhope retires to bed and in an unguarded moment when he asks Osbourne to ‘tuck him into bed and kiss him goodnight’, he is revealed as a young boy…