"A Wife in London" (Thomas Hardy) - vs - "The Manhunt" (Simon Armitage)

  • Created by: maddy_may
  • Created on: 12-08-17 14:28

"A Wife in London" (Thomas Hardy) - vs - "The Manhunt" (Simon Armitage)


  • Both of the poems are based on a wife's reaction to her husband, who is a soldier. However, the news that their receive is different as in "The Manhunt" the wife reacts to her new relationship with her husband, who was badly injured in the war; whereas, the poem "A Wife in London" shows the reaction of the wife discovering her husband is dead.
  • The poems both have incorporated a rhyme scheme, however they are used to achieve separate overall effects. "The Manhunt" has a fractured rhyme scheme to further reinforce the extent of his injuries. On the other hand' "A Wife in London" has a regular rhyme scheme to show a regimented life and to enforce Hardy's point about the sheer amount of people who loose there lives during war.


  • "The Manhunt" has a fractured structure, which could reflect the husband being physically broken ("punctured lung") and the various injuries that he sustained. In addition, it could refer to the way that war disrupts peoples' lives. The fractured structure could represent the metaphorical cracks in their relationship, since he has returned from war. This could link to the end line of the poem, where it says "only then did i come close". The line is ambiguous but could be interpreted that the wife will only ever "come close" to the intimate relationship they used to have, however, it will never be quite the same.
  • The poem "A Wife in London" has a regular structure, which might suggest that army life is regimented. An alternate view is that the regularity of the rhyme scheme infers how often the telegrams were sent and how they were all very similar and impersonal. There were 400,000 soldiers sent to the Boer war, which could have been reflected in the regular structure because the war affected so many people it wasn't seen as unusual to expect a telegram. Moreover, the regular structure could infer that she feels isolated as everything else carries on as usual and she is left to cope with the loss of her husband alone.
  • Armitage uses a semantic field of damage and injury to emphasise the physical and emotional damaged caused by war. The poem incorporates imagery of war damages and military equipment, which could suggest that although the husband is physically there, all he can focus on is what happened when he was in the war, inferring that he is also mentally damaged ("unexploded mine buried deep in his mind"). The damaged imagery could also represent the issues within their relationship, as the husband is unable to give his wife his full attention.
  • Hardy uses pathetic fallacy to reflect the wife emotions. At the start of the poem Hardy incorporates "a tawny vapour" to foreshadow the bad news that the telegram brings. Then once she receives the optimistic letter from her deceased husband, "the fog hangs thicker" to echo the mood and the greater pathos that has been created.
  • The poems are written in different perspectives. "The Manhunt" is written in the wives perspective as it focuses on the effects of war on the couple, unlike "A Wife in London", which is a narrative poem, that focuses on the wives reaction alone.

Overall comparison


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