What impression of Stanhope do you get from the opening conversation between Hardy and Osborne?
In the opening conversation between Hardy and Osborne two controversial views of Stanhope are given to us. One view is that Stanhope is a man that is constantly drinking. Hardy’s view of Stanhope is extremely negative, biased and abrupt whereas Osborne appears to be defending Stanhope and his drinking.
We first hear about Stanhope from Osborne before he ever arrives on stage. Osborne says ‘’Stanhope asked me to come and takeover. He’s looking after the men coming in." From this speech R.C Sherriff presents a positive view of Stanhope from the beginning. The phrase ‘’Looking after’’ suggests that Stanhope is kind, caring and thoughtful. However, during the same conversation Hardy present Stanhope in a much more negative light asking if Stanhope was ‘’Drinking like a fish as usual?’’. Hardy speaking in this way about Stanhope creates a conflict which helps to develop the plot as the audience are intrigued and want to know more about the character and how his drinking may affect his abilities to do his job well or relationships with other characters.
Osborne presents him as a “natural leader” yet also despite his heroism he is presented as being very human, a “child” at heart, enjoying “Uncle” Osborne tucking him into bed at night. He acts as a mentor to Stanhope, helping him to cope, he is an officer, about to be relieved by Stanhope, showing Stanhope as a superior officer.
Osborne then counters Hardy’s negativity about Stanhope “He’s a long way the best company commander we got." From this the reader, on balance, would retain the positive view of Stanhope but with some confusion. Osborne explains that Stanhope’s drinking is a way for him to cope. Stanhope has been in the army 3 years longer than any other soldier. ‘’He’ stuck it till his nerves have got battered to bits he’s called a drunkard’ ’The reader would feel sympathetic for anyone fighting in a war,...