Thomas Hardy

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What kind of literary devices were used in "The Man He Killed" by Thomas Hardy?

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Michael Ugulini eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Literary devices used in the poem "The Man He Killed" by English writer Thomas Hardy include the following:

1. A Protagonist and Antagonist

In this poem, the narrator is the protagonist and the man he is talking about, the one he killed, is the antagonist. The protagonist of the story had a struggle against the antagonist and killed him. In this poem, as the narrator (protagonist) relates his story, the lines eventually blur as to whether either man is a protagonist or antagonist. The narrator realizes that this man, like him, probably joined the army because he needed money – he was unemployed just as the narrator. They did not join for ideological reasons.

2. Ballad Model

The Man He Killed” is written in the ballad format, which is stanzas consisting of four lines each. It is a narrative poem because it is a poem that tells a story. Here the story is how the narrator killed a man, and that under different circumstances, these two men would probably share an ale with each other in a tavern as friends if not for the scourge of war upon their landscape.

3. A Rhyme Scheme

This five stanza poem is twenty lines in total. In each four line stanza, line number 1 rhymes with line number 3, and line number 2 rhymes with line number 4. This is consistent throughout the poem. Therefore, the rhyme scheme is ABAB/CDCD/EFEF/GHGH/IJIJ.

4. Use of aCaesura’

In poetry, a caesura is when the poet puts a strong pause within a particular verse line. Thomas Hardy employs a caesura in stanza number 4...

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anujumairah | Student

Hardy has not only used irony in this poem. 

He has also used a dramatic monologue (narrative), the perspective of the first person singular, the colloquial diction/jargon, punctuation, repetition and enjambment. 

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