Relationship in “The Manhunt” and “Nettles”

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Compare how a relationship is presented in “The Manhunt”by Armitage and “Nettles” by Scannell The poem “Nettles” is about a father that cares for his three-year old son after he has fallen in a parade of nettles. Even though the father is most sympathetic towards his son, and cares for him until his pain is “not so raw”, he is furious with anger at the nettles for causing his son the amount of pain that he is feeling at that point.

This is understandable as he is his father and he wants to always be there for him, to make sure he is okay which is acceptable at such a young age; however the father will have to understand that he will have to let his son eventually “stand on his own two feet”. The poem “The Manhunt” is showing the relationship between a wife and her husband. It shows that the wife is very desperate for her husband to open up to her, to be truthful about his pain and scars to her.

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The husband was in the war and shows that the damage that war does continues for a long time after war has finished. The wife fears for her husband because she loves him so much and she fears for his pain and most definitely his fragile condition. He’s returned so fragile from the war, with terrible scarring, both mental and physical. He was shot and the bullet ricocheted through his body and came to a stop in his chest, this has obviously caused him so much pain.

The impact of war has affected him so greatly that there is “a sweating unexploded mine, buried in his mind…” which is an imagery of war. The wife realises this eventually, yet the language shows a gradual build up of the relationship with the wife and husband, and recovery from the war, so their relationship will be as close as it was before he was called to war. The language used throughout the poem “Nettles” consists of military language, and a fair few metaphors, used to describe the pain and imagery for the nettles. Bed seemed a curious name for those green spears,” the term “green spears” is a metaphor which the father uses to describe the nettles, which also comes under the military language. As the father is referring to the nettles as green spears, it shows quite a clear anger towards the nettles, same with the metaphor after green spears, “regiment of spite”, this is also a metaphor for another way of describing the nettles. Other metaphors used for describing the nettles are, “honed the blade, fierce parade, fallen dead, called up tall recruits and sharp wounds”.

These describe mainly how the Father attacked the nettles and described as a “military attack on the nettles”. The last line of the poem, “My son would often feel sharp wounds again” represents that the father is determined that his son will fall into the nettles and experience the same pain again if he doesn’t cut them down. Alliteration is also used in this poem, “hook and honed”, alliteration adds to the effect of the poem as it adds to the speed of the pace which shows more fury and anger from the father towards the nettles.

Another part of the poem which stands out is the pain the son shows. There are a lot of references shown to describe the boys pain, the writer obviously added these to add to the effect of the poem, as you read through the poem, the way it is written, it helps you imagine the pain that the boy is going through. “With sobs and tears” is a prime example of the young boys pain, “white blisters beaded on his tender skin” is also a good example. I think this is one of the best references used as it really shows the pain that the young boy is feeling.

It shows that the nettles “attacked” him in such a way that his soft, baby skin has been damaged by them. The last sentence of the poem, “My son would often feel sharp wounds again. ”, it shows a metaphor for the pain that he has experienced in his life and if he isn’t careful and the father doesn’t regularly cut down the nettles, the same accident could happen again and once again, the little boy could go through the same pain, and that would cause the Father even more guilt. The poem Manhunt is also very similar to Nettles as it uses the same form of language, military.

It also shows a relationship but instead of it being between the father and son, this time it’s between a man and his wife. The poem is filled with metaphors which are suggesting the damage of the man, making him sound fragile, they are also military language. “Only then would he let me trace the frozen river which ran through his face, only then would he let me explore the blown hinge of his lower jaw” – this is the second and third stanza of the poem, the bold words represents metaphors of the man and how fragile he is and how much damage that the war has done to him.

Also, “only then” is repeated twice at the beginning of each stanza, this shows repetition and also small steps to recovery. The wife of this man is speaking in the poem, and she repeats the words “only then” quite often through this poem. He doesn’t want her to touch his injuries to begin with as he is very fragile, which is as the poem gradually goes on, their relationship gets stronger and stronger throughout it. “Then I widened the search, traced the scarring back to its source to a sweating, unexploded ine buried deep in his mind. ” – The finishing line that the poem ends on, this is what I would say the most effective line of the whole poem as it tells you what the wife has noticed. She’s used his injuries to mentally draw an image of what it was like when he was at war. She sees the imagery of war and the effects of the war aer like an unexploded mine, I’ll be hard to ‘fix’ his mental scars yet she wants to care for him and make him better.

It’s possible for him to heal from his physical scarring but it is unlikely that he will ever recover from mental scarring. “the foetus of metal beneath his chest where the bullet had finally come to rest” – this is a short stanza like the rest of them, which is telling us that he was shot and the bullet ricocheted through his body and finally came to a stop in his chest, therefore there is still metal beneath his chest.

All his physical scars come from this main source, yet the mental scarring is proven to be worse in this poem. Both poems are compared with relationships; they are both related through the type of language that they are spoken in (military) and they both show a strong and loving relationship between two people. In Nettles it was the father and his son, and in Manhunt it was the man that returned from war and his wife.

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Relationship in “The Manhunt” and “Nettles”. (2016, Sep 17). Retrieved from

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