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Explication Of &Quot;The Man He Killed&Quot;

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Category: English

Autor: anton 04 April 2011

Words: 737 | Pages: 3

Explication of “The Man He Killed”

In “The Man He Killed,” Thomas Hardy demonstrates a sense of disgust for war, by comparing two men, who could have grown up together, and are now fighting against each other for someone else’s cause. The speaker, a young man who has served his country and killed an opposing soldier, relates to the man he has killed. This is a closed form style poem with dark undertones of the senselessness of war.

In the first stanza, the young man describes meeting the man he’s killed in an ancient inn, rather than on a battlefield. He does not reveal himself as a soldier until the third stanza, and clearly in the last stanza when he mentions war. When he speaks of what he’s done, “I shot him dead because--/Because he was my foe.” he attempts to clarify, if not justify his reasoning for shooting another man. He mentions that he was also being shot at, but in the end, it was simply because the other man was his foe. He then illustrates the similarities that he shared with the soldier, “Off-hand like--just as I--/Was out of work--had sold his traps-/No other reason why.” The last stanza states that war is curious, in any other situation you might sit with these men (no longer your enemies), at a bar or help them out monetarily.

In order to more clearly illustrate his disgust for the pointless effects of war, the speaker in the poem is a normal man. This is shown when he actually compares himself to the soldier, in the language that is used, and at the end with the use of the word “you.” This makes the poem about anybody, giving it a more personal feeling. This is one of the strongest ways of relating the irony of war to the listener.

Speaking of the many similarities between the two men, makes them seem as if they could have been best friends. He says that he might have helped the other man to ten or twenty dollars, and this is not something that would just happen between acquaintances. The were both out of work, had to sell their belongings, they could have been the same man. Metaphorically, killing the other man is almost like killing himself. “Yes; quaint and curios war is!/You shoot a fellow down/You’d treat if met where any bar is,/Or help to half-a-crown.”This reinforces the fact that this is the only reason why these men would be in this situation.

This poem definitely expresses a disapproval of war. These two men are both of similar social status, background, and way of life. If they would have met in an inn many years before, or possibly after, they would be sharing drinks in a bar, as friends instead of foes. There is no reason for violence, for killing other people. War is the only reason why these men would ever kill another. The speaker does not want to kill the other man, but he is forced to, the man he is shooting is himself, or could be. He cannot justify his actions, though he attempts to. He pauses, and then states that the man was an enemy. He states that the other man was his foe twice, “Because he was my foe./Just so: my foe of course he was;” almost questioning that fact. He pauses at the end of that stanza again, as if he’s not sure of what he’s done.

Hardy does not clearly state that he opposes war. He instead uses a common man, someone that could be next door. Yet the argument is clearly present, in an ironic satirical point of view. He states that if they would have met somewhere else, if it wasn’t war, if neither man would have enlisted, if either man would have had work, none of this would have had to happen. The speaker does not clearly state his feelings either, he is hazy, as if the effects of the war have changed him dramatically. He wants to be sitting in a tavern, sharing a beer and a story with the men around him, but instead he is on a battlefield. This poem is a demonstration of reasons for peace and tranquility instead of war.

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