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"The Man He Killed" Essay

1022 words - 5 pages

Thomas Hardy is the writer of the poem, “The Man He Killed”. Hardy was born in 1840 in a small English village, called Higher Bockhampton. Hardy passed away in 1928 at a place called Max Gate. Max Gate was a house that Hardy had built when he was married to his first wife, Emma Lavinia Gifford. This house was just a few miles away from where he was born. “Hardy’s youth was influenced by the musicality of his father, a stonemason and fiddler, and his mother, Jemima Hand Hardy, often described as the real guiding star of Hardy’s early life”(Poetry Foundation). The musical talent of his father really caught Hardy’s attention. After seeing his father chase his dream, he followed in the same ...view middle of the document...

“I shot at him as he at me, and killed him in his place”(Hardy). These two lines help to explain a few things. When the speaker states that they both shot at each other, it shows that they both had a fair chance, which will become more important later in the poem. If you look deep enough into it, it only took the speaker two lines to go from being face to face with a man, to killing him. This is a symbol of how quickly a life can be taken away.
Continuing on, the mood of the speaker starts to change. He has gone from being very straight forward to more of a thrown off attitude. The soldier starts to explain his reasoning for killing this complete stranger. “I shot him dead because- because he was my foe, Just so: my foe of course he was; that’s clear enough although”(Hardy). The soldier’s tone has begun to sound as if he is feeling bad for what he has done. He keeps stating that this man was his foe. And he is trying to convince himself that that should be enough reasoning.
This next stanza can be confusing at first. You have to break it down line by line to see what it really means.
“Here the speaker imagines a life for the man he killed, and it wasn't much different from his own. He guesses that maybe the other guy enlisted (that's where that strange word 'list comes from) because he was out of work and needed a job (which is why he sold all his traps, or personal effects), probably never imagining that this one choice might lead to his death. And all of a sudden—poof!—there goes the speaker's reason for killing this guy. Foe? Hardly. He's just another guy, trying to make a life for himself out there in the big bad world. We've got...

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