The poem is written from the standpoint of a soldier that killed a man in battle. The narrator conveys the view that if they had only met in a diverse situation, a bar for instance, the outcome may have been different. Historical Context eke many of Hardy’s famous poems, this one was written in the aftermath of the Boer Wars, which was waged between the Brats and the locals in South Africa, which they colonized.
It was a brutal, messy war and it cost a lot of ivies. So we can see where Hardy’s coming from in traumatizing this one soldier’s response. Literary Devices Throughout the poem, Hardy uses literary devices Of irony, repetition, imagery and concludes with contrast. Effectiveness The young soldier ironically realizes that the man he killed could have been his friend, and having no other reason like him but to join the war. N.B.. When one is in a situation of kill or be killed, one kills. } Hardy uses repetition in the lines such as: “face to face”; “l shot at him” and “l shot him dead”; “you shoot a allow down”; “he was my foe” and “my foe of course he was”(stanza 2-3) to emphasize how the soldiers trying the persuade himself that what he did was right. The persona continues to struggle with the harsh reality of what he has done.
Finally, Hardy uses the image of an “ancient inn” and a “nipper” and a “bar” and “half a crown” as a contrast to his images of war. These images symbolize civilized conversations between friends contrasted with confronting each other in a battle field. Themes Importance of life Guilt The ironies of war Mood/tone The poem is written in a conversational tone The poem is piercing in its irony, haunting in its imagery, and more than a little depressing in general. Hear that deadly datum in stanza 1?
That’s iambic meter at work. In this case, Hardy smashes three iambs in the first, second, and fourth lines of each stanza, making it iambic trimester, and he drops an extra one in the third line of each stanza, making that line iambic tetrameter. Rhyme scheme Significance of title The poem “The Man He Killed” is told to us by an unnamed narrator (a man in bar) who overhears a one-sided conversation (a kind of dramatic monologue) made by a soldier who killed a man.
Even though the soldier does all the talking, he’s not really the narrator. The narrator simply transcribes what he says and relays it back to us. Therefore, Hardy uses vague pronoun usage to juxtapose the man (who is friend and enemy? ) and to show the irony and confusion of all involved. Even though the title “The Man He Killed” is third person point-of-view, the dialogue has been filtered to he reader through the original listener, who serves as an embedded narrator, a kind of outside speaker.
Since the poem is one-sided conversation (it’s all quotes), this embedded narrator never truly speaks in his own poem. He is thus in the same position as the audience. Why does this embedded speaker never comment on the dramatic monologue? Why does he never insert his own “l” in response to the soldier? He knows that any commentary is unnecessary. Also, he may not have even been talking to the solider: he may have only overheard this in the bar.
The soldier speaks so naively and ironically, using so much bad (circular) logic that any words of his own would diminish the humor and irony. Some things are better left unsaid. The poem is rife with irony, including the title. In it, Hardy shows relativism and perspectives using irony and POP shifts, both of which blur the lines between friend and foe, speaker and listener, soldier and civilian, patriotism and murder. In short, the pronoun confusion mirrors the soldier’s moral confusion. N.B.. Each stanza has four lines, which makes it a quatrain.