* Compare and contrast at least one poem and one play.
* Two plays: ‘Blackadder goes forth by Richard Curtis and Ben Elton’ and ‘Journey’s End by R.C. Sheriff’.
* Two poems: ‘Dulce et Decorum est by Wilfred Owen’ and ‘The Soldier by Rupert Brooke’.
* The basic structure of the essay should be split into four sections – Context, themes, character and style.
* Make brief reference to how these techniques and ideas could be used in my own piece.
The contexts of all the pieces contrast and compare in certain ways. The two poems are set in WW1 and both plays are set in 1918, this is significant as it is the end period of the war and portrays its finality. Both ‘Blackadder’ and ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ give great details of how the war was fought.
“Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time…I saw him drowning.” ‘Dulce et decorum est’
This in comparison to ‘The Soldier’ is a negative opinion on war.
“If I should die, think only this of me: That there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.” ‘The Soldier’
‘ The soldier’ portrays war to be heroic/patriotic, ‘Dulce…’ is realistic and explains the suffering involved in war. ‘The Soldier’ is propaganda as it telling us only what it thinks we should know about war. ‘Blackadder’ portrays war to be a game.
“Right – first put your underpants on your head, and two pencils up your nose.” ‘Blackadder’
The main theme of each text is war. In ‘Blackadder’ the themes of anxiety and waiting are explored, this is contrasting to ‘The Soldier’ in which a patriotic picture is painted, this being a false image and the theme of escapism. ‘Dulce…’ deals with destruction and the losses of war it is very specific and its negative text showing no hope.
“…White eyes writhing in his face, his hanging face, like a devil sick of sin…” ‘Dulce…’
‘Journey’s end’ is at contrast with this as it uses humour to lift the spirit making it more positive, the use of small talk creates the theme of hope throughout this play.
“Three minutes to go. I think we’d better go.” ‘Journey’s End’
The characters in ‘Blackadder’ are stereotypical.
“There’s a nasty splinter on that ladder, sir. A bloke could hurt himself on that.” ‘Baldrick in Blackadder’
“As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of cunning at Oxford University.” ‘Blackadder in Blackadder’
The variety of characters illustrates the hierarchy of power and their positions in war. We get an indication of their classes from their language. This is contrasting with ‘The Soldier’ in which there is a single character that is of the opinion war is a good thing. In ‘Journey’s end’ the characters bond because they are in an unfamiliar situation, and as the reader we build compassion for these characters. The friction and rivalry between characters in each text soon changes to friendship, this is shown in ‘Blackadder’. At the beginning Blackadder and Darling are rivals but they join as friends towards the end and die together.
The use of reality in ‘Dulce…’ and the use of unreality in ‘The Soldier’ are effective styles of drama. The conflict between these two is easily identified. In ‘Journey’s end’ humorous comments are used to show hope, as they are in ‘Blackadder’. The frantic pace of ‘Dulce…’ and ‘Blackadder’ represents the chaos of war. Both ‘Journeys end’ and ‘The soldier’ have quite a calm pace.
There are many techniques that have been used in each piece that I think could be effective if incorporated into my own improvisation. I like the contrast of reality and unreality, and the false image portrayed in ‘The soldier’.