How "Blackadder" portrays the commanders of the First World War

Year Nine
A description of Lt. George, Squadron Commander Lord Flashheart, Captain Darling, General Melchett, and real-life figure Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig.

 

The officers shown in “Blackadder” are all rather thinly veiled caricatures of the real life men. A common trait shared by all of the officers (except Captain Blackadder) is an inability to realise the stupidity and futility of their plans. General Melchett, in particular, seems to view “going over the top” as something of a joke, rather than the horrific experience that we know it to have been, even sending Darling to his death as “special treat” in the final episode. He, like many men of the time, is keen to send others off to the front lines while he, being “too old and too fat”, stays far behind at HQ. Captain Kevin Darling seems to be aware of the horrors of the trenches, and it is obvious that his constant toadying around Melchett is part of an effort to stay as far away from the front lines as possible, even enduring a torrent of abuse from other officers (such as being asked if he unloads lorry loads of paper-clips , in order to maintain his position of relative privilege. Lieutenant George, meanwhile, seems blissfully ignorant of the hell-hole in which he lives. He falls instantly behind most of Melchett’s plans, and seems to be filled with the artificial spirit of war which seems to have been so common in this period. Douglas Haig himself, of course, has only one actual appearance, in which he is seen sweeping soldiers off his planning table, but he is certainly implied to be inflexible and backward, with little regard for human life. Last of all, Squadron Commander Lord Flashheart, of the Royal Flying Corps, seems to relish in the “adventure”. Far from being desperate to get out of the war, he loves showing off to the other soldiers and any women present. Though while rescuing Blackadder he quietly admits that he hates the war as much as Edmund does, he retracts the statement a moment later. We can infer that he actually sees as plainly as Blackadder, but is simply having a better time of it than him.

 

Originally written March 2012 by Robin Taylor. No grade, but positive feedback.

In my personal case this was set as classwork.