Manhunt by Simon Armitage

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  • Created by: chloe
  • Created on: 18-05-13 13:36

What is The Manhunt about?

The manunt is written from the perspective of the wife of a soldier who has sustained serious injures at war and has returned home. The poem explores the phyiscal and mentak effects of living with injures sustained when on active serivce in the armed forces.

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Structure of 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 soldiers 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 war zone. The poem ends when she comes close to finishing her search.
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Language in the title

  • The title puns on the idea of the 'manhun', meaning litulary hunt and capture a man. Here the wife's search is for the husband she knew so well but who seems lost to her, metaphorically, after his war experiences.
  • 'The manhunt' shows that she is searching for one specific person, it is a definent article.
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How are prominent verbs used for effect?

The priminent verbs reflect the activities of the wife as she conducts her 'search'. Words and phrases like 'explore', 'handle and hold', 'mind and attend' are all references to careful treatment of her husbands injured body, as well as suggesting her patient care for his mental state.

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Metaphors used for effect

The speaker refers to parts of the husbands body metaphorically, comparing them to inanimate objests rather than to living things. His jaw is a 'blown hindge', 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 somethign hard but also easily chipped and cold, a reminder of the 'frozen river wich ran through his face'.

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Sensual and loving verbs in the poem

Sensual and loving verbs reflect the intimacy of husband and wife, and keen devotion from the wife hoping to heal her husband. The wife says that she is able to 'climb the rungs of his broken ris', a closely observed detail of her hands exploring the altered body of her husband. The idea of the ladder is reflective of the effort involved in the wifes gradual search for answers.

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"grazed heart" "foetus of metal beneath his chest"

The poem explores the cost of war on those serving on the armed forces. The man has a 'grazed heart', perhaps literally from an injury caused by the 'metal beneath his chest' but also metaphorically. He is unable to connect with his wife, unwilling to speack of his experiences and so their loving realtionship is affected. The image of the metal bullet still inside his as a foetus suggests that, like having a baby, the couples relationship will be forever changed.

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"buried deep in his mind"

The metaphor "a sweating unexploded mine buried deep in his mind". The source of the problem is not physical but mentl, and threatens to cause problems at any time. The importance of the wife's care and delicacy is highlighted by her discovery of this problem.

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"only then, did I come close"

The poem is not about judging the rights and wrongs of war, but the impact of war on ne perticular relationship. "Then, and only then, did I come close" shows that her search was not successful and only after she realises that her husbands problems lie in his memories and experiences rather then physical scars, did she "come close".

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  • In Paris with you- unwilling to discuss his experiences of the past
  • The Farmers Bride, To His Coy Mistress- perspective of a partner exploring their feelings for their other half and their relationship
  • Quickdraw- Both use metaphors, repitition, onamatopia, oxymoric and they both have ambiguous endings
  • Nettles- War imagery, ambigous ending, showing pain of the 2nd person through the speaker and the feeling of nonaccomplishment.
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Paul Dutton


A good set of notes on this poem which looks at language and structure.

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