“Oh, What a Lovely War” characters-Kimberly Lamping

Throughout the play, “red poppies crops up repeatedly as a symbol of impending death. They are often being handed to a soldier who is being sent to die”

Throughout the play, “red poppies crops up repeatedly as a symbol of impending death. They are often being handed to a soldier who is being sent to die.”

Oh What a Lovely War

            Oh, What a Lovely War is a musical that “originated Charles Chilton as a radio play: The Long Long Trail and was transferred to stage by Gerry. The title is derived from the music hall song “Oh! It’s a Lovely War”, which is one of the major numbers in the film” (wiki). Oh What a Lovely War is ironically up beat as it shows the horrors of World War I through songs and projected images. One particularly interesting aspect of Oh What a Lovely War is the vague characters. These indistinct characters are used to highlight the meaningless slaughter of World War I.

The reason the characters in this play are interesting is because there is not a main character. You finish watching the play with no particular connection with any of the characters. While there is a main family (the Smiths) and a few generals that make several appearances, you do not see any character growth or change, and never really get a sense of their personalities. This is all done on purpose. The whole point of Oh What a Lovely War is to use irony to make fun of politicians and war leaders. It uses dark satirical comedy, to contrast and highlight the loss of life from war. Oh What a Lovely War does not highlight any particular characters because all the soldiers seen in the beginning of the play end up dead at the end in a field of poppies. The author clearly wanted show the meaninglessness of World War I and all the death it caused.

In its time, Oh What a Lovely War was a controversial play that made people question the purpose of war. The indistinguishable characters showed audiences that World War I (in the writer’s view) was one big bloodbath. Between the horrific trench warfare, gas and air attacks, World War I caused almost a whole generation of men to be wiped out. The slightly bland and non-specific characters efficiently highlighted the continuous cycle of American soldiers being recruited to war and essentially being sent off to die.

References

Dowd, Vincent. “The birth of Oh! What a Lovely War.” BBC News. BBC, 11 Dec. 2011. Web. 5  Dec. 2013.

“Oh! What a Lovely War.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Nov. 2013. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.

 

 

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