comparing language in manhunt and nettles

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  • Comparing language used in 'The Manhunt' and 'Nettles'
    • 'The Manhunt'
      • The poem is made up of a series of couplets, mostly unrhymed. This creates a sense of fragmentation, which matches the feelings of the soldier's wife as she seeks to understand the man her husband has become.
      • The poem describes the phases of a wife's search for answers from her injured husband who has recently returned from a war zone. The poem ends when the search is brought to a close.
      • The speaker refers to parts of the husband's body metaphorically, comparing them to inanimate objects rather than to living things. His jaw is a "blown hinge", suggesting that he is no longer open to her, perhaps unable to talk of his feelings and experiences. His collar bone is "damaged, porcelain", a metaphor that brings to mind something hard but also easily chipped and cold, a reminder of the "frozen river which ran through his face".
      • The title puns on the idea of the 'manhunt', meaning literally a hunt to capture a man, often a criminal. Here the wife's search is for the husband she knew so well but who seems lost to her, metaphorically, after his experiences at war.
    • 'Nettles'
      • The poem consists of a single stanza and has alternately rhyming lines. The poem is a narrative account, focused on the father's perspective of an accident involving his son.
      • Martial (to do with war) imagery and language dominate this poem, which may appear strange at first given the domestic subject matter. By bringing the two ideas together, Scannell is offering his opinion on each.
      • The nettles are personified as an opposing force. They are a "regiment of spite", and are described using the metaphor"spears". Within the first three lines the nettles are presented as a violent and aggressive group of soldiers to reflect the speaker's need to protect his child.
      • The child is presented using emotive language, reflective of the compassion and sympathy the speaker feels for his injured son: "White blisters beaded on his tender skin". The alliteration using the 'b' sounds suggests the swelling, painful injuries, and the child's skin is "tender", a strong contrast to the language used to describe the nettles. The "watery grin" is another emotive description, implying the child is being helped to get over his painful experience by loving parents.

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