The attitudes of Bamforth and Macleish towards the prisoner change considerably throughout the play. Usually the attitude will change from one extreme to another at a certain point in the play which triggers this change in perspective of the prisoner. The language and action of the characters represent the change in attitude with some obvious but also some subtle lines of the play, usually resulting in the building of tension. Willis Hall, the playwright, shows these changes in characters to show how people's attitudes to war, and general morality, and how it can change due to a certain action in a person's life.The time in the hut reveals each characters true colours.
The Long and the Short and the Tall is set during the Second World War in December 1941, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and a series of Japanese naval victories. The play itself is about the actions of a patrol of English soldiers in an abandoned hut in the Malayan Jungle. Bamforth shows the largest and most obvious change in attitude throughout the play. In the first act of the play when the Japanese prisoner has not been introduced to the audience Bamforth comes across as an arrogant, egotistic character.
'Come on then you Welsh Taff!Stick me one on! ' Bamforth is very big-headed and he shows this when he boasts about how he could win a fight between himself and Evans. This attitude could be the result of the fact that he is not very big physically, so therefore he resorts to using verbal abuse to make up for what he lacks in his build. Bamforth is also a xenophobe. He is racist to virtually everyone else in the troop as they come from different backgrounds to him. 'Say you're an ignorant Welsh Taff! ' Bamforth uses racism as he is not very comfortable with the fact that the other people in the troop do not have the same background as he does.
Bamforth uses his cruel wit to ridicule weaker members of the troop. Each character has a different social background. This may frighten Bamforth as he is not used to people who are unlike him around. The audience also discovers that Bamforth undermines authority. When Johnstone is addressing the troop, Bamforth undermines him by insulting him. 'He speaks under his breath) Nit! ' This proves that Bamforth does not respect Johnstone's position in the troop and does not respect the authority that Johnstone has.
This also proves that Bamforth may also be cowardly as he does not speak it aloud but mutters the insult under his breath.The audience sees Bamforth as the reluctant soldier who is cynical of war. We also discover that Bamforth is very argumentative and will argue with anybody when there is no need to argue at all. When Macleish tells Bamforth he has no rewards for being in the army yet he responds in an argumentative manner. 'No, my old haggis basher.
.. you thick-skulled nit! ' Bamforth responds in this way as he does not want to keep his troop as friends and establish a close relationship with them as they may be killed the next day in action. Therefore, he would not in reality be saddened by the loss of members of the troop.
He does not want to become emotionally attached. Bamforth is completely cynical about the war and he represents the voice of the reluctant soldier. He does not want to be there. 'Tell old mother Mitchem all about it.
What a good boy you've been. Please Sergeant I've been working ever so hard... you make me sick. ' These phrases would be delivered with Bamforth looking deep into the eye of Whitaker with a slightly disgusted look upon his face.
He may occasionally shake his head to represent how disappointed and angry he is.When he comes to saying 'Please Sergeant.. he would imitate Whitaker's voice and put on an infant-like accent whilst delivering the lines in a sarcastic manner.
Bamforth, before the prisoners arrival, is a character with whom the audience can have no sympathies. When the Japanese prisoner is first captured, Bamforth comes across as a bully towards the prisoner. He is very offensive and racist towards the prisoner. 'Touch the loof you, you Asiatic glet! ' Bamforth imitates the Japanese accent by adding a cartoon-like effect when speaking to the prisoner. He also insults the prisoner repeatedly throughout the production.He does this as he takes his frustration out on the prisoner which has been building up throughout the first act.
Bamforth is also the only one in the troop who is willing to kill the prisoner. 'It's only the same as carving a pig'. This proves that Bamforth does not see this prisoner as a human. He sees him as the enemy, which is what he is trained to do. He gives the prisoner sub-human qualities. He does this as he feels threatened by the prisoner, not in a physical way, but in a way that the prisoner will be the centre of attention around the camp instead of himself.
After some time passes in the camp and Bamforth gets to know the prisoner, he starts to treat him like a human. Bamforth becomes friendly with the prisoner as he becomes proud of the prisoner. 'Like he was my only chick. ' Bamforth does this as he sees the prisoner as almost equal to himself after the turning point in his perspective of the prisoner- when the prisoner reveals he has a family. Bamforth talks to the prisoner a lot and tells him what to do. The prisoner responds.
'Flingers up on blonce! (The Prisoner complies)'. Bamforth does this as he cannot give out orders around the hut and feels privileged that he can give out the orders instead of taking them for once. The prisoner has almost become Bamforth's friend. 'He knows his flingers already.
Good old Tojo. ' When Bamforth performs these lines he would most likely have a smile on his face and give a little laugh when he says 'Good old Tojo'. He would look around the hut for people watching in admiration. He would have a gleam in his eyes to partner the wide smile upon his face.
Towards the end of the play Bamforth becomes friendlier with the prisoner, as he acknowledges a fellowship with him. Bamforth feels like an outsider along with the prisoner so the two have an affinity. Bamforth treats him more and more like an equal. He is very defensive of the prisoner, especially when the prisoner reveals British cigarettes and the rest of the patrol think the prisoner has stolen them off a British soldier. Bamforth tells the patrol that they are his and he personally handed them to the prisoner, even though this may not be the truth.I gave him the fags! ' Bamforth also defends the prisoner when Mitchem reveals that they are going to kill him as he costs them time.
'You said he was going back.. what's the poor get done to us? ' Bamforth defends the prisoner and tries to get the rest of the patrol to agree to take him back with them. He does this as he has befriended the prisoner and he also feels sorry for his earlier actions in the play, where he mistreated the prisoner.Bamforth's attitude change can be seen very clearly now when he reveals the lines 'He's a man! This tells the audience that Bamforth now views the prisoner as a human and gives him human qualities whereas before when he was just comparing killing the prisoner to carving a piece of meat, thus treating the prisoner as an animal.
If this scene were to be acted out, Bamforth would be right up to Mitchem when he questions why the prisoner is not coming back to camp and would be speaking in a very loud voice. His face would portray a very angry look, and almost a hint of disbelief and disappointment as he realises Mitchem has lied to him.Bamforth's final action which portrays his view of the prisoner is when he asks the troop to take sides in the discussion about whether they take the prisoner or leave him. 'So come on Whitaker! Don't sit there, lad. Whose side you on? ' Bamforth is the only member of the troop who sides with the prisoner, thus showing Bamforth's humane side.
In conclusion, Bamforth is an arrogant and immoral character, whom which the audience can have few if no sympathies for. He lacks drive and determination in every aspect of his role as a soldier. Although the audience still see him as an interesting character mainly due to his humour and wit.Bamforth is the voice of the reluctant soldier. Towards the end of the play after Bamforth befriends the prisoner, we begin to see the humane side of his character. Bamforth warms to the soldier after discovering he has a family.
Bamforth does no longer distinguish between the prisoner and the men in the patrol. In his eyes, all are equal. During the final few scenes, Bamforth is willing to risk his life for the prisoner's. He also is prepared to defend the prisoner as shown when he argues his case in favour of the prisoner being taken back to camp. Bamforth ends the play as the voice of humanity.Macleish also shows a large change in attitude towards the prisoner throughout the play.
During the earlier stages of the play, before the prisoner has been discovered, Macleish is only in reality a civilian in uniform and does not really want to be in the situation he finds himself in. Macleish is left in charge of the patrol when Mitchem leaves the hut. During this period he slips up and reveals weaknesses on which Bamforth thrives and exploits. 'When you speak to me you'll watch your mouth. I mean that Bamforth'.
Already Macleish shows a dislike to Bamforth.If this scene were to be acted out Macleish would be up close to Bamforth and right in his face. He would be pointing his finger whilst his face portrayed a look of anger. Bamforth would most likely be smirking as Macleish and even possibly let out a little laugh at some of the statements Macleish makes. Willis Hall shows weaknesses in Macleish's character as he is used to portray the representation of a conscripted soldier.
He is the soldier who does not want to be there and therefore has no experience in his field. Macleish is unable in the pressure of war to remove himself personally from the situation in hand.When the prisoner is first captured, Macleish is the voice of reason. He does not want to kill the prisoner as he sees him as a human.
'Its bloody murder, man! ' Macleish has these views because he realises that his brother may also be in the same situation the prisoner is further north of the hut. Macleish thinks that the way they treat the prisoner may also be the way in which his brother is treated. He wants this to be the way his brother is treated. Macleish represents how most of the audience will feel about killing the prisoner. That is, utmost disgust.
Macleish sees the prisoner as human as he says that he cannot possibly kill a man from close range, when he is a man and not just the enemy. 'If it was something moving in the trees - something you can put a bullet into and not have to look into its eyes'. Macleish gives alternative solutions of how to get rid of the prisoner, when he has his conversation with Mitchem in Act 2. 'There must be something else..
. there's another way! ' Macleish offers these alternative options as he does not see the prisoner as a threat, and again is thinking about the way in which his own brother is being treated.Macleish expresses the audience's horror at the prospect of killing in cold blood - he is a figure whose moral dilemma an audience can empathise with. During this scene in a play, Macleish would have a look of sympathy about him and would hope that Mitchem sees this. Mitchem would keep a very straight face and have a sincere tone in his voice.
Macleish will have a slightly uneasy and nervous tone of voice. His hands will rise when he pleads to Mitchem to keep the prisoner alive. The turning point in Macleish's perspective of the prisoner is when he discovers that the cigarette case which the prisoner owns is British.It's pretty obvious he's pinched the thing'. Macleish cannot accept the fact that the prisoner has stolen the case off a British soldier. His brother enters his mind and he anticipates the worst that the case was his brothers, and he may have killed for it.
At this point Macleish also agrees with Mitchem's reasoning behind killing the prisoner. It is from now on that we see the side of Macleish that does not see the prisoner as a human. Macleish does this as he wants to follow the crowd and not potentially cause any disruption in the troop.He follows set.
We see Macleish's change when he hits the prisoner after the pictures of the prisoner's family have been ripped up by Johnstone. 'The Prisoner starts forward and macleish rises and strikes him across the face. ' If this scene were to be acted out in a play, Macleish would be silent and confused at the sight of the prisoner's photos being ripped up. After he strikes the prisoner, Macleish would have an angry look on his face, but also a confused element upon it.
In conclusion, Macleish's attitude changes considerably throughout the play.In fact, it is the opposite to Bamforth's change in attitude. Macleish at first cannot kill the prisoner as he is a defenceless human being. He believes war can be fought according to rules, he is an idealist. Towards the end of the play, Macleish turns on the prisoner and by the end of the play, when each patrol member is taking sides he cannot make up his mind. His behaviour towards the prisoner fluctuates throughout the play and at the very end he gives up on making decisions altogether - "he continues to stare out of the window" when Bamforth pleads with him to help.
Willis Hall includes Macleish's differing opinions to the prisoner because Macleish best embodies the moral confusion of war and the individuals willingness to confront it. He illustrates how 'normal' untrained men struggle to come to terms with their environment and situation - Macleish should be seen as an 'everyman'. The play itself was written to show how attitudes of men can change in certain situations. The characters are not just meant to represent one persons view on war but a whole category of men. Bamforth represents the voice of the humane soldier who embraces his environment and makes decisions in certain situations.
Macleish is the voice of the conscripted character who ignores the situation he finds himself in as he does not genuinely want to be there - he has to. The play shows how the attitudes can change. Bamforth is originally the voice of the reluctant soldier, but by the end of the play becomes that of the voice of humanity. Macleish starts of as the voice of humanity, in a way, and ends up as that of reluctance. The prisoner is the key element to changing their perspective on war, which shows just how much influence one element can have on a person's perspective of life.