The Man He Killed

by Thomas Hardy

Start Free Trial

What are the language terms of the poem "The Man He Killed" by Thomas Hardy? Tell me if there is any metaphor, simile, allusion or anything about the poem.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy

Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have set us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

I shot him dead because--
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although

He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like--just as I--
Was out of work--had sold his traps--
No other reason why.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.

We have lots of irony: of place (the bar vs. the battlefield); of theme (friends vs. enemies in war); verbal irony: "quaint and curious war is" and "that's clear enought" are classic understatement.

We have an unreliable (naive) narrator / speaker: he does not know who he is and why things are.

We also have a imbedded narrator: all of this is being overheard by a narrator in the bar, so the narrator is like the reader, an indirect source.

We have imagery, mainly to do with the price of things ("half a crown", "sold his traps")

We have character foils (reflections of each other): "But ranged as infantry,/ And staring face to face, / I shot at him as he at me, / And killed him in his place."  Are they friends or foes?

We have a logical fallacy (circular reasoning): "I shot him dead because--/Because he was my foe, / Just so: my foe of course he was; / That's clear enough; although."

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Posted on