Journey's End

Journey's End Irony

The content of Raleigh's letter (Situational Irony)

At the end of the first act, Raleigh writes a letter to his sister, who is engaged to Stanhope. Stanhope demands that Raleigh leave the letter unsealed so that he may censor it, as he is worried Raleigh will tell his sister that Stanhope is losing his mind at war. Stanhope rips the letter from Raleigh's hand; however, contrary to expectations, Raleigh’s letter is respectful, and elides any details of Stanhope’s mercurial behavior or drinking. Instead, Raleigh focuses on upholding the image of Stanhope as a hero who keeps his men’s spirits high through encouragement.

Stanhope stays inside (Situational Irony)

After spending the entire play preparing for the moment the Germans launch a full-scale attack, Stanhope waits out the shelling in the dugout rather than joining the others. Even though Stanhope has been paranoid about his men trying to escape the attack, and expended energy convincing Hibbert not to wriggle away like a worm, Stanhope's shattered nerves get the better of him and he is unable to join the men who he forced to stand on the line.

Osborne dies during the raid (Situational Irony)

Although the concern of Osborne and Stanhope leads the audience to expect that Raleigh is too fresh to the war to participate effectively in the raid, it turns out that Osborne—the experienced and levelheaded officer—is the one who dies. In this example of situational irony, the audience's expectations are undermined.

Contrast in the tone of conversation (Dramatic Irony)

In an example of dramatic irony, Stanhope and Osborne discuss the prospect of Raleigh joining the raid party with concern, as they know the dangers involved. However, when Raleigh enters the stage, Osborne tries to keep his spirits up by concealing his fear and upholding Raleigh's belief that to be selected for the raid is a great honor. In this moment, Raleigh's naivety is made clear, as the audience knows how grim the prospect really is.