“The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy Essay
In Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”, he writes the poem as if it is something he had heard, giving the story have an unknown narrator, strengthening the poem greatly. This strengthens the poem by the making it more of a story from one person to another, rather than words straight from the others pen.
Hardy’s narrator gives a first person encounter that he had with another solider. His diction used contributes to making the story informal and seems more like a story being told from a common man in the Army’s perspective.
He uses the informal words “nipperkin” and “list” and to show that this poem is being addressed in average language and not an elevated poem. But even with using common words Hardy is able to create a deep contrast between the why there is war and the senselessness of it. The story is told with a rhythm, which gives the story a pattern in the text and also end rhymes, because the poem is to be read fast as if it was being told from one solider to another.
Hardy introduces elements of irony throughout the poem as well. His narrator makes a paradox of why we kill other people at war who has enlisted just like the himself. Hardy creates a deep thought provoking question: what gives us the right to kill others only for the sake of war? The narrator is lost for words and has no explanation for why he killed the man, “I shot him dead because- Because he was my foe” (Hardy 3). The dash is used because there is meant to be a long pause when reading the text, because he is thinking, and can not find a reason for why he killed him. When the narrator can’t find an answer for his question he is perplexed and questions his morals and also questions his motives for war, “Yes; quaint and curious war is” (Hardy 5).
Hardy is able to create a strong imagery and underlying the contradictions of war. “The idea that war is nonsensical when seen at the level of ordinary human beings who are obliged to carry out orders is evident throughout the poem” (Allen 1). This idea brings out the senselessness of war, and the struggle people have to try and reason for doing it.