An Analysis of “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy

A possible intention that Thomas Hardy had in writing his poem, “The Man He Killed,” is discussing the absurdity of war. The poet reflects upon having shot someone who could have been his friend had their respective countries not assigned the pair as foes. A potential interpretation of this poem is that the poet is a war survivor who advocates against war. The poet humanizes his enemy- whom the war dehumanized- by imagining that he enlisted in the army for the same reason that the poet did: out of desperate need for money. 

The poem diminishes the glory associated with being a war survivor. It exposes war for attempting to justify murder in the name of a country. Hardy does this using the perspective of a war survivor who lives with the regret of having shot a stranger. The poem also teaches that the people that a soldier kills in war are not really his enemies. This is heavily emphasized with the idea of buying this supposed foe a drink in an alternate circumstance. One would be inclined to support the antiwar agenda after having read this poem.  

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