Journey’s End

by

R.C. Sherriff

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Stanhope Character Analysis

The Captain of an infantry company stationed in the trenches of St. Quentin, France during World War I. Stanhope is a young man, but he has already seen three years of combat and has gained the respect of his men, who see him as a brave leader. But they also see him as something of an alcoholic. Indeed, the war has changed him greatly, turning him from a rugby captain and school hero into a hard-drinking man with shot nerves who can drink an entire bottle of whiskey, stumble to bed, and wake up and command an infantry the next morning. Osborne, the second-in-command, admires Stanhope like everyone else, but he recognizes the toll the war is taking on him, suggesting in a conversation to Hardy—another officer—that Stanhope’s drinking has perhaps become too much of a spectacle in the trenches. “When a boy like Stanhope gets a reputation out here for drinking, he turns into a kind of freak show exhibit,” he says. When a young officer named Raleigh reports for duty, Stanhope doesn’t know how to respond, since he knows Raleigh from before the war. Indeed, Stanhope was Raleigh’s role model at school, and the two boys even spent summers together because their fathers are friends. What’s more, Stanhope is romantically involved with Raleigh’s sister, who’s waiting for him after the war. Because of this, Stanhope is weary of Raleigh, as he thinks Raleigh will write letters to his sister and tell her that he (Stanhope) is a drunken mess. Still, though, he does nothing to change his behavior, continuing to drink at all hours of the day—a practice he eventually admits has to do with his fear of war, saying that he only has two choices: either he must fake sick and get out of the war entirely, or he has to get drunk enough to be able to ignore his crippling fear.

Stanhope Quotes in Journey’s End

The Journey’s End quotes below are all either spoken by Stanhope or refer to Stanhope. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Journey’s End published in 1929.
Act 1 Quotes

OSBORNE: He’s a long way the best company commander we’ve got.

HARDY: Oh, he’s a good chap, I know. But I never did see a youngster put away the whisky he does. D’you know, the last time we were out resting at Valennes he came to supper with us and drank a whole bottle in one hour fourteen minutes—we timed him.

OSBORNE: I suppose it amused everybody; I suppose everybody cheered him on, and said what a splendid achievement it was.

HARDY: He didn’t want any ‘cheering’ on—

OSBORNE: No, but everybody thought it was a big thing to do. [There is a pause.] Didn’t they?

HARDY: Well, you can’t help, somehow, admiring a fellow who can do that—and then pick out his own hat all by himself and walk home—

OSBORNE: When a boy like Stanhope gets a reputation out here for drinking, he turns into a kind of freak show exhibit. People pay with a bottle of whisky for the morbid curiosity of seeing him drink it.

Related Characters: Osborne (speaker), Hardy (speaker), Stanhope
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

OSBORNE: You may find he’s—he’s a little bit quick-tempered.

RALEIGH [laughing]: Oh, I know old Dennis’s temper! I remember once at school he caught some chaps in a study with a bottle of whisky. Lord! the roof nearly blew off. He gave them a dozen each with a cricket stump.

[OSBORNE laughs]

He was so keen on the fellows in the house keeping fit. He was frightfully down on smoking—and that sort of thing.

OSBORNE: You must remember he’s commanded this company for a long time—through all sorts of rotten times. It’s—it’s a big strain on a man. […] If you notice a—difference in Stanhope—you’ll know it’s only the strain—

Related Characters: Raleigh (speaker), Osborne (speaker), Stanhope
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

It was all right at first. When I went home on leave after six months it was jolly fine to feel I’d done a little to make her pleased. [He takes a gulp of his drink.] It was after I came back here—in that awful affair on Vimy Ridge. I knew I’d go mad if I didn’t break the strain. I couldn’t bear being fully conscious all the time—you’ve felt that, Uncle, haven’t you? […] There were only two ways of breaking the strain. One was pretending I was ill—and going home; the other was this. [He holds up his glass.] […] I thought it all out. It’s a slimy thing to go home if you’re not really ill, isn’t it?

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Osborne
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

OSBORNE: I believe Raleigh’ll go on liking you—and looking up to you—through everything. There’s something very deep, and rather fine, about hero-worship.

STANHOPE: Hero-worship be damned! [He pauses, then goes on, in a strange, high-pitched voice] You know, Uncle, I’m an awful fool. I’m captain of this company. What’s that bloody little prig of a boy matter? D’you see? He’s a little prig. Wants to write home and tell Madge all about me. Well, he won’t; d’you see, Uncle? He won’t write! Censorship! I censor his letters—cross out all he says about me.

OSBORNE: You can’t read his letters.

STANHOPE [dreamily]: Cross out all he says about me. Then we all go west in the big attack—and she goes on thinking I’m a fine fellow for ever—and ever—and ever. [He pours out a drink, murmuring ‘Ever—and ever—and ever.’]

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Raleigh
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

I was feeling bad. I forgot Raleigh was out there with Trotter. I’d forgotten all about him. I was sleepy. I just knew something beastly had happened. Then he came in with Trotter—and looked at me. After coming in out of the night air, this place must have reeked of candle-grease, and rats—and whisky. One thing a boy like that can’t stand is a smell that isn’t fresh. He looked at me as if I’d hit him between the eyes—as if I’d spat on him—

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Raleigh, Osborne, Trotter
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 2 Quotes

S-M: Well, then, sir. If they don’t get through the first day, they’ll attack the next day and the next—

STANHOPE: They’re bound to.

S-M: Then oughtn’t we to fix up something about, well [he gropes for the right words]—er—falling back?

STANHOPE: There’s no need to—you see, this company’s a lot better than A and B Companies on either side of us.

S-M: Quite, sir.

STANHOPE: Well, then, if anyone breaks, A and B will break before we do. As long as we stick here when the other companies have given way, we can fire into the Boche as they try and get through the gaps on our sides—we’ll make a hell of a mess of them. We might delay the advance a whole day.

S-M [diffidently]: Yes, sir, but what ’appens when the Boche ’as all got round the back of us?

STANHOPE: Then we advance and win the war.

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), The Sergeant-Major (speaker)
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

Stanhope! I’ve tried like hell—I swear I have. Ever since I came out here I’ve hated and loathed it. Every sound up there makes me all—cold and sick. I’m different to—to the others—you don’t understand. It’s got worse and worse, and now I can’t bear it any longer. I’ll never go up those steps again—into the line—with the men looking at me—and knowing—I’d rather die here. [He is sitting on STANHOPE’S bed, crying without effort to restrain himself.]

Related Characters: Hibbert (speaker), Stanhope
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

If you went—and left Osborne and Trotter and Raleigh and all those men up there to do your work—could you ever look a man straight in the face again—in all your life! [There is silence again.] You may be wounded. Then you can go home and feel proud—and if you’re killed you—you won’t have to stand this hell any more. I might have fired just now. If I had you would have been dead now. But you’re still alive—with a straight fighting chance of coming through. Take the chance, old chap, and stand in with Osborne and Trotter and Raleigh. Don’t you think it worth standing in with men like that?—when you know they all feel like you do—in their hearts—and just go on sticking it because they know it’s—it’s the only thing a decent man can do.

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Raleigh, Osborne, Hibbert, Trotter
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 3, Scene 2 Quotes

RALEIGH: Good God! Don’t you understand? How can I sit down and eat that—when—[his voice is nearly breaking]—when Osborne’s—lying—out there—

[STANHOPE rises slowly. His eyes are wide and staring; he is fighting for breath, and his words come brokenly.]

STANHOPE: My God! You bloody little swine! You think I don’t care—you think you’re the only soul that cares!

RALEIGH: And yet you can sit there and drink champagne—and smoke cigars—

STANHOPE: The one man I could trust—my best friend—the one man I could talk to as man to man—who understood everything—and you don’t think I care—

RALEIGH: But how can you when—?

STANHOPE: To forget, you little fool—to forget! D’you understand? To forget! You think there’s no limit to what a man can bear?

Related Characters: Stanhope (speaker), Raleigh (speaker), Osborne
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Journey’s End LitChart as a printable PDF.
Journey’s End PDF

Stanhope Character Timeline in Journey’s End

The timeline below shows where the character Stanhope appears in Journey’s End. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...the supplies when he took over. He then makes haste, not wanting to overlap with Stanhope—the captain taking over for him—because he knows Stanhope will force him to clean the trenches... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
“When a boy like Stanhope gets a reputation out here for drinking,” Osborne says, “he turns into a kind of... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
...He also explains that their group has just moved into these trenches, and that Captain Stanhope is the commander. At the mention of Stanhope’s name, Raleigh perks up, saying, “I know.... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Raleigh tells Osborne that Stanhope was the rugby captain at his school. When Osborne asks if Raleigh also played, he... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Osborne adds that Stanhope is a “bit quick-tempered,” but Raleigh merely says, “Oh, I know old Dennis’s temper! I... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
...pineapple chunks he secured for the company is in fact a can of apricots, which Stanhope hates. Mason seems ill-at-ease, telling Osborne that he wanted to tell him first so that... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Osborne breaks the tension between Stanhope and Raleigh by informing Stanhope that they’ll have to make do with apricots instead of... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
...to black one in; that’ll make the time go all right.” Looking at Trotter’s chart, Stanhope tells him he ought to go up and stand watch, assuring him he can “black... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Trotter and Raleigh go together to work a shift above the dugout. Meanwhile, Osborne and Stanhope decide which beds they’ll take while Stanhope drinks whiskey. When Hibbert (the fourth and final... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
...is a “good-looking youngster.” When he reveals that Raleigh mentioned the fact that he and Stanhope went to school together, Stanhope seems immediately put off, saying, “Has he been talking already?”... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Stanhope shows Osborne a picture of Raleigh’s sister. “She is waiting for me,” he says, “and... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Continuing with his complaints, Stanhope tells Osborne that the idea of returning from the war and reuniting with Raleigh’s sister... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Trying to make his friend feel better, Osborne says that when the war ends Stanhope can return to his old life “as fit as ever.” Stanhope agrees that he used... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
“Hero-worship be damned!” Stanhope explodes. He then decides to censor Raleigh’s letters so he can control what his lover... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
...at breakfast, he and Raleigh came into the dugout after their shift and saw that Stanhope had gotten up from bed to drink more whiskey. “He didn’t seem to know who... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
As Raleigh leaves, Stanhope comes in and tells him to inspect his platoon’s rifles at nine o’clock. He then... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Osborne urges Stanhope to not defile Trotter’s chart, saying that he spent a long time making it. Stanhope... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Stanhope admits he sometimes wonders if there’s something wrong with him. “D’you ever get a sudden... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Stanhope turns his attention to censoring Raleigh’s letters, insisting to Osborne that he’s going to have... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
...the letter on the table without sealing it. When he leaves, Osborne says, “Good heavens, Stanhope!” Still, Stanhope holds his ground, saying it’s his decision whether or not to censor the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Later that afternoon, Stanhope speaks to the Sergeant-Major of the company, telling him about the impending attack. He instructs... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Stanhope asks the Colonel when the general wants the raid to happen, and the Colonel says... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
On his way out, the Colonel invites Stanhope to dine with him that night to further discuss the plans, asking if he likes... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...the doctor will surely send him to the hospital once he sees his condition, but Stanhope claims to have already spoken to the doctor and told him to not send Hibbert... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
As Stanhope and Hibbert glare at one another, Hibbert breaks into a high laugh, exclaiming, “Go on,... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Stanhope reveals to Hibbert that the only way he himself can bear the war is by... (full context)
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
When Hibbert leaves, Osborne enters, and Stanhope informs him that he and Raleigh will be leading the raid on the German trenches.... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
Stanhope comes into the dugout and fetches Hibbert from the sleeping quarters, and together they go... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Near sunset the following day, Stanhope paces the dugout and speaks with the Colonel, who tells him that headquarters has told... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
...them how important it is to bring at least one hostage back. The Colonel and Stanhope turn to leave, but Osborne calls Stanhope back and places his wedding ring, watch, and... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
After Stanhope leaves, Osborne and Raleigh try to pass the time before the raid. They only have... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
...muffled by the earthen walls of the dugout. After several moments, the noises abate, and Stanhope’s voice rises into the air. “All right, sir,” he says. “Come down quickly!” In response,... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Stanhope slowly comes down the dugout stairs, and the Colonel says, “Splendid, Stanhope! We’ve got all... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Raleigh sits on Osborne’s bed, and once he and Stanhope are alone, they look at each other in silence, the Very lights shining in faintly... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
That night, Trotter, Stanhope, and Hibbert enjoy the fresh chicken, the bottles of champagne, and the cigars brought in... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Talking about the raid works Stanhope into anger, so he tells his officers to go to bed. However, Hibbert is so... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
“You insulted Trotter and Hibbert by not coming,” Stanhope tells Raleigh. After a moment of silence, Raleigh says, “I’m awfully sorry, Dennis, if—if I... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
Realizing the effect of his words on Stanhope, Raleigh apologizes, saying, “I’m awfully sorry, Dennis—I—I didn’t understand.” Stanhope makes no reply, so Raleigh... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...lighting the dugout are no longer burning. It is dawn on the following day, and Stanhope is still in bed. Mason gently wakes him and gives him tea. Trotter, for his... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
When Raleigh goes up, he turns and says, “Cheero—Stanhope.” From where he sits, Stanhope doesn’t raise his head, merely saying, “Cheero, Raleigh. I shall... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
The Sergeant-Major enters the dugout and fills Stanhope in on what’s happening, telling him that a soldier has been badly wounded. As he... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
When the Sergeant-Major leaves, Raleigh wakes up and is in a rather jovial mood, greeting Stanhope as if nothing terrible has happened. “Hullo—Dennis,” he says. “Well, Jimmy,” Stanhope says, smiling, “you... (full context)
Friendship and Human Interaction Theme Icon
Fear and Coping Theme Icon
...a light? It’s—it’s so frightfully dark and cold.” Immediately wanting to accommodate the boy’s needs, Stanhope rises and searches for a candle, promising to also bring another blanket. For a moment,... (full context)
Anticipation, Expectations, and Uncertainty Theme Icon
Repitition, Futility, and Perspective Theme Icon
...sounds of the attack rage louder and louder. Finally, a soldier rushes down and tells Stanhope that Trotter has asked that he “come at once.” Stanhope sends him away, promising he’s... (full context)