The Great War started with a lot of optimism many people thought that it would be short war and it would be finished before Christmas 1914. However they were very wrong in this belief; it turned out that the war in fact went on until 1918. There are several reasons why the war did go on for so long.
Firstly there was military stalemate. The Germans tried to win the war quickly with the shifflen plan however this failed. The main area of this stalemate was the western front where the French and the British fought against the Germans. This was a slow front due to the trench systems, which were easy to defend but hard to attack. The size of the armies also meant that even if breakthrough were made then they could easily be stopped. Thus the allies in an attempt to win the war went and attack the Gallipolis Peninsula. This failed dramatically which left only the option of the western front. Due to all these factors the First World War has often been described as a war of attrition.
Secondly is the naval stalemate. During the First World War there were two major naval powers these were Germany and Britain. However throughout the war Britain had the upper hand. However their only problem was how to use this to their advantage. To do this the British set a blockade that eventually would help them to win the war but would take a long time. Lastly the British managed to defend against u-boats and thus could maintain control of the seas.
Many of the big countries had strong economies. To be able to go on fighting they would have to be able to pay for it. Thus I feel it is a factor of the whole thing. To make the countries be able to hold economically the government took over key industries and more importantly the manpower. The skilled labours rather than going to fight went into their industries. This obviously made the war last longer because the countries could still stay in the war.
To have a war there must be public enthusiasm. Thus the conclusion that we can draw is that there was a huge amount of enthusiasm for the war. Lots of people enrolled for the army (before it became a conscript army), in every capital city (where war had been declared) there were celebration for the people hoped for a quick and easy victory. This enthusiasm continued to around 1916 however even when it had left people still wanted to fight. The want to fight was mostly produced by the government by using propaganda and government censorship. In several cases the war was stopped by the people the most famous being that of Russia where there was a revolution due to the war. Of course there were several other cases of mutiny even in the victories armies e.g. the French and the British armies and then eventually in the German navy.
All the sides tried for an early ceasefire (or peace). For example France wanted to have a peace with Germany but Germany would not fleet this happen because for that peace France wanted Alsace and Loraine, which Germany were not willing to give; so in a way there was also a diplomatic stalemate. Obviously if there were no negotiation or peaces then the only result was a “fight to the Death”