Dramatic Techniques Used in The Long and the Short and the Tall

Dramatic Techniques Used in The Long and the Short and the Tall
During this play there are dramatic techniques used by Willis Hall to present the moral dilemma faced by the British soldiers during the drama. Willis Hall prompts us to think about the rights and wrongs of war and the death of the Japanese prisoner. He does this in more ways than one but I?m going to focus on one point exactly: the point in which he constructs a scenario in which the Japanese prisoner has British cigarettes on him; this has to be one of the most dramatic scenes within the play and it covers all of the soldiers views on the prisoner. This whole situation is set during World War 2 in the Malayan jungle over a period of a couple of hours this is relevant to all wars and conflict: if one thing hasn?t changed over the years it?s conflict. This is very good because it gives the play a kind of ?real time? effect; bringing the audience in and making them feel like a part of the play. There aren?t long periods of time in which the audience have no idea what happens; what happens happens in front of their eyes and there is very little that they miss, they learn what the soldiers learn such as when the Japanese lines are advancing or when the prisoner is coming to the hut.
This helps the audience relate with the soldiers and the difficulty of their situation. The way that the whole play has been staged and set is within a small hut which has two windows and a small table within. This makes the whole scene claustrophobic and makes the tension ricochet off the walls and causes all of the soldiers to get on each other?s backs especially those prone to anger i.e. Bamforth, Johnstone and Macleish: pretty much the whole group. Bamforth fights with both of these people in two separate occasions and because of their condition and their personality it causes them have serious issues with each other. Bamforth resents order and those who follow it. Johnstone likes his power and doesn?t like Bamforth trying to fight the system. Macleish is a believer of the rules and dislikes Bamforth?s obsession of being unruly. Willis Hall uses many dramatic devices such as: the cigarettes and cigarette case that the prisoner has, the photographs of the prisoner?s family back in Japan and the very ending of the play. The cigarettes and the cigarette case cause tension because he must of obviously looted them from a British soldier. ?The thieving Nip? because he is captive with British soldiers they don?t take too kindly to it. The photographs of the prisoner?s family also cause tension because before he was like an animal ?Savage?: they knew nothing about him and they didn?t care: he was it not he, however, when the photographs come out it makes the soldier ever much more real as some of British soldiers have family too and can relate with him "you?re as bad as smudge". The very ending of the play is also very tense and ironic because with the death of the prisoner alerts the other Japanese and thus causes the death of all the other soldiers except Johnstone who in turn surrenders quite like the prisoner before hand ?waves the white flag?. Johnstone is also one of the soldiers who treated the prisoner with the least amount of respect and care; treat someone how you would want to be treated. When Johnstone sees that the prisoner has a cigarette he asks Macleish inquisitively if he has ?been keeping him in smokes?. Macleish says that he has not and that the prisoner has his own and gave one to Macleish. This alarms Johnstone and he checks the cigarette out and only to find that it?s a ?blighty fag?. Immediately Macleish, Mitchem and Johnstone accuse the prisoner of looting from British soldiers up country. This makes us think that this prisoner is not so innocent or comical at all; it makes us want him dead and the three that know about it first also want to kill him. This dramatic device is used in such a way that it radically changes the view on the soldier for Macleish; throughout most of the book Macleish tries to treat the prisoner as a human. However, as soon as he thinks that the prisoner has been stealing cigarettes from British soldiers he is just as ready to beat him as the rest of the patrol; ?I?ll kill him.? This sudden change of heart is likely to be because he realises that his brother could have been one of the soldiers the prisoner has looted from; ?My brother?s only 19â??for all I know he?s dead!? This shows that he is quite hypocritical; he preaches to others about rules and regulations, but when it suits him, he completely ignores them. This dramatic device also makes the audience radically change their view: while some may have already thought that he should die; the others are shocked to think that this comical figure has looted from a dead British soldier and this also changes their view. Mitchem joins in with the others about the prisoner stealing and he joins in with the hatred "thieving slob", however, he probably just sees this as an opportunity to get rid of the prisoner because he wants to do so anyway. Bamforth however, quite ironically, steps in for the defence of the prisoner because he really is the only one who recognises the fact that he isn?t just the enemy but he is also a human. He steps in and says "I gave him them" and with these few words he acts like handbrake on the whole situation: Macleish is stupefied by this new information and feels a ton of guilt pouring onto him, he was ready to kill this man, and he begins to apologise to the prisoner and picks him up and dusts him off " I thought â?? I thought he?d knocked them off". This plot twist and dramatic device tries to make the audience also feel the same guilt as Macleish as the previous dramatic device tried to make them hate the prisoner. At this very moment the suspected audience?s emotions are tied in with Macleish?s emotions. There are so many dramatic devices and so many different ways in which Willis Hall gets us to actually think about something instead of just letting our minds rot and it really gives the play a sense of actuality. The way in which he has presented this has brought it to life, the characters to life and even the jungle to life. This isn?t some far-fetched story it could of happened to your grandfather. With the moral dilemma being huge: to kill the prisoner or not. The soldiers react differently and really only one of them realise that he is in fact a human being. This play lets you decide for yourself how you would treat the prisoner and whether or not if you agree with the ideals of the soldiers and whether or not about the rights and wrongs of killing the Japanese soldier. Willis Hall has created a play which will be relevant as long there is war and has made anyone who read it think differently on how they act towards others.

Dramatic Techniques Used in The Long and the Short and the Tall 8 of 10 on the basis of 992 Review.