The Man He Killed and Drummer Hodge

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Question: Compare the ways in which Hardy portrays death in warfare in 'Drummer Hodge' and 'The Man He Killed' Hardy in ‘Drummer Hodge’ is trying to show us how war lowers the value of human life. Straight away, from the first stanza of ‘Drummer Hodge,’ Hardy writes about death in war. It begins with ‘They throw in Drummer Hodge...’ Immediately we can see the lack of respect for the Drummer, as they ‘throw’ him in, ‘to rest.’ Hardy further describes that Hodge is buried ‘Uncoffined – just as found;’ which reinforces our notion of the lack of respect shown towards the dead drummer. This shows us that in the haste of war the drummer is buried as quickly as possible, so fighting can resume, showing us how Hardy may be portraying the lowering value of a human being. We can also interpret this as presenting how death has become a nuisance for the military, resulting in dead soldiers being buried as quickly as possible. It is interesting to us that Hardy chose to name the Drummer ‘Hodge;’ in context, Hodge was a popular name for many people in England, particularly farmers and labourers and is the shortened form of Roger. In calling the drummer ‘Hodge,’ Hardy may be trying to say death in war happens on a large scale, just like the popularity of the name, and that it happens to ordinary people, just as the name is for ordinary people. This fits with the disillusioned tone, that war is futile as so many normal people are killed. Hardy in ‘The Man He Killed’ is trying to tell us how war is futile as men are killed just because they are on opposing sides. The poem, compared to ‘Drummer Hodge,’ is much more retrospective. Hardy uses a dramatic monologue throughout the poem, making the poem itself much more personal and leaving a larger impression on the reader, whereas Drummer Hodge is written in the third person; this allows Hardy to describe the treatment of the dead
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