The structure of Journey's End

The structure of a text refers to the way in which events are organised inside the play as a whole.

The events of this play are organised into three acts, but take place over four days. Act I contains one scene, Act II contains two scenes and Act III contains three scenes. The scenes therefore get shorter as the play moves on.

This quickens the pace as we move towards the end, and tension rises in the dugout while the men wait for the oncoming attack.

Act I is an exposition scene, allowing us to understand the situation and to become familiar with the characters and their relationships with each other. There is a lot of boredom and sitting around chatting.

This portrays how much waiting there was in war, and creates tension as the audience are waiting for something to happen.

An imminent attack - expected in two days’ time - is mentioned in Act II, Scene 1. This introduces tension, but again the audience are left waiting.

There is no more war action until Act II, Scene 2, when the Colonel comes to inform Stanhope which officers will be involved in the planned raid on the German forces.

Again this is drawn out, and there is no sign of any actual fighting in Act II. The act ends poignantly with the young Raleigh excited and flattered about being picked to take part in the raid.

The pace of the action steps up in Act III, Scene 1. It begins slowly, with the men eating - but by the end of the scene the raid is over and Osborne is dead.

The remaining short scenes see Stanhope left cynical by the lack of care from his superiors about the loss of men. The play finally ends with the death of Raleigh, and the remaining characters going forth to the attack they have been waiting for since Act II.

This conclusion reinforces the futility of war as all the characters we have gotten to know during the play are now dead or - we assume - about to die.