In the play “Journey’s End”, in addition to depict the First World War, the author’s main purpose is to let the audience reflect on how important are moral values in life. In particular, R. C. Sherriff highlights the value of friendship, which is portrayed through the relationship between Stanhope and Osborne. The friendship between the two of them is presented by the author through a series of key scenes, which play an extraordinary role.
To begin with, since the start, the audience surely understands how strong the relationship between Osborne and Stanhope is. Stanhope is the infantry’s captain: despite his young age, he shows himself to be a fine leader of men, who is able to command his own company and to hold a very responsible position during the conflict. However, his character is not as perfect as the audience might expect, due to the impact of war, which has brought him several drinking issues. In order to cope with the horrors of the conflict, Stanhope turns himself into an alcoholic, as, once on the front, whiskey seems to be the only means able to let him escape from the reality. Precisely for this reason, Osborne cares a lot about him, as he knows how he feels and he is aware of the problems he has to deal with at his very young age. As regards the following struggle and their friendship, in Act 1 Scene 1, when Hardy gossips negatively about Stanhope and alludes to his figure through the phrase “drinking like a fish”, Osborne puts his loyalty towards Stanhope in the foreground, by protecting him and taking his side. That said, Osborne keeps supporting Stanhope, by giving him some advice or diversion as a relief.
In addition to this, Stanhope is strongly grateful to Osborne’s figure and considers the latter as a point of reference. Since the beginning, the author presents the character of Osborne as a kind and supportive man, as he looks after his fellows and he is concerned about their physical and psychological state, which struggles a lot during life in the trenches. Moreover, he is the oldest soldier and, consequently, he is the wisest among all, as he previously was a schoolmaster. Indeed, he gives good and useful advice to Stanhope, who always asks for his opinion. Furthermore, Osborne is likable and respected by Stanhope: the captain calls him “Uncle” as he is like a father figure to him. To sum up, they are attached to one another, as there is a sort of familiar relationship between the two of them, and the affection they feel for each other is something which goes beyond military duty or work.
By referring to the most astonishing episode of their friendship, later on, the author introduces the audience to Osborne’s death scene, which is a clear instance of how the loss of a dear friend can change someone‘s mood and attitude. As a matter of fact, due to his best friend’s death, Stanhope becomes a new different person. As soon as he gets in the dugout and sees Raleigh still alive, Stanhope gets furious with him and he starts coping with mourning in a weird way, as he cannot believe what previously happened. Actually, by exploring his grief, Osborne’s decease leads Stanhope to deal with the hard blow in a seeming uncareless way and to drown his emotions, instead of facing them. However, when Raleigh refuses to take part in the party and blames Stanhope for his unbothered behaviour, the leader feels guilty for not recalling Osborne’s memory in a more appropriate manner.
In conclusion, Stanhope and Osborne have a wonderful friendship which will go ahead after death, as it is able to overcome space and time. In my opinion, as a pair of friends, their souls are linked to each other, as what they have gone through together is endless and unbelievable.