9 March 2015 Can’t we all just be Bros?
In Thomas Hardy’s “The Man He Killed” the speaker lets the readers know his thoughts on war. The poem makes us question whether or not we are all equal inside. Is war a necessity for our survival, or are we just doing it because our country tells us to? Only the soldiers who have experienced war first hand can tell and this is Thomas Hardy’s story.
To begin with, in the first stanza of the poem the speaker mentions “we should have sat us down to wet/ Right many a nipperkin” (3-4)! Which in translation means that if “he” and the speaker had just sat down in a bar or pub and had a small number of drinks, that they would have been good friends with some things in common. Of course the “he” in the poem refers to an enemy of war, and so the speaker believes that anyone can settle their differences over a glass of beer if only they just took the time to do so. At the end of the second stanza the speaker has already shot and killed the enemy but when staring face to face with him, curiosity and wonder go through his head as the speaker doubts the purpose of war all in all (5-8). The chances of him meeting that specific enemy as infantry could have been a chance of meeting him in an inn or pub. For example, say the speaker and his enemy both have syphilis but do not know it yet because they are too busy fighting a war, but the enemy decides to invite the speaker to a bar, that they just happened to be fighting next to, for a couple of drinks and one hour later they turn out to be the best of friends and find out that they both contracted their deadly disease from the same woman!
Moreover, the speaker tries to reason with himself by trying to think of a good enough reason as to why the speaker shot another human being. Lines 9 and 10 say “Because he was my foe, / Just so: my foe of course he was” (9-10). Did the speaker shoot him because he was really his “foe” or was it the speaker’s duty to kill? The speaker tries to come to a reasonable justification that it was ok to kill the enemy so he, the speaker, would not have to grip the thought of such a thing but because his enemy was simply just a foe was not good enough. The speaker keeps the question of “we could have been friends if met in different conditions” in the back of his mind (9-12). Up to this point, the speaker is having problems trying to comprehend the war the speaker is fighting in and wonders what outcomes could have resulted if he had just met his rival at a pub that if they could have become friends instead of foes.
Next, the fourth stanza of the poem mentions a reason why the speakers rival could have possibly enlisted in the war; maybe he could have had the same reasoning as the speaker did. The speaker joined offhand because he, the speaker, was out of work, out of money. Was