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Transcript of The Manhunt
"only then would he let me trace
the frozen river which ran through his face,"
"only then" seems to suggest that this 'hunt' was carried out in small steps with the persona's partner's consent "let me". The metaphor "frozen river" is representative of a scar running down the mans face but also has a deeper meaning. The "river" shows how there is more depth to his feeling and the "frozen" is being used to describe that the river is unable to flow which symbolises how he is unable to function properly after war and even be unable to escape the memory of war.
"only then would he let me explore
the blown hinge of his lower jaw,"
Again, the repetition of "only then would he let me" seems to suggest that the persona is not forcing her way through, but allowing her partner to slowly open up and "let me". The verb "explore" seems very thorough, the persona doesn't want to miss anything. The metaphor "blown hinge of his lower jaw" presents how he is no longer able to express his feelings to his partner as the only part of him that can speak is broken. Moreover, this metaphor shows how the husband is unhinged and he cannot function properly as a husband
"After the first phase,
after passionate nights and intimate days,"
The "first phase" seems to suggest that this 'Manhunt' of trying to find the man that the persona once knew was carried out in a series of phases and that the sexual intimacy in the rebuilding of their relationship was merely only the beginning. This is strange because usually a relationship begins with getting to know each other then having a sexual relationship, but in this poem it seems to be the other way around. As the "first phase" compromised of "passionate nights and intimate days".
By Emily, Kathleen and Beth
The Manhunt analysis
War and its consequences:
This is shown is Armitage's use of language and semantic field of destroyed body parts; metaphors used to describe injuries as a result of warfare "blown hinge of his lower jaw", "damaged porcelain collar-bone", "parachute silk of his punctured lung", "rungs of his broken ribs", "grazed heart".
He also refers to the mental damage of war; "a sweating, unexploded mine buried deep in his mind'".
He has closed himself away from people, the speaker is trying to reaffirm the relationship. "every nerve in his body had tightened and closed."
Broken relationships and a lack of connection:
The ryhme scheme contains full rhyme and half rhyme couplets; the lack of consistancy reflects the fractured relationship and his fractured mental state
"and handle and hold
the damaged, porcelain collar-bone,"
The verbs "handle and hold" seem to be very gentle, this is due to the alliteration of the soft 'h' sound. The metaphorical language of the persona's "porcelain collar-bone" by Armitage is effective in conveying the persona's care with her partner as "porcelain" is very delicate and easily "damaged". In the first three stanzas, "phase" and "days", "trace" and "face", "explore" and "jaw" Armitage uses rhyming couplets however in this stanza he begins to slowly split off into half rhyme as the persona moves from surface injuries to deeper injuries as the "collar bone" is inside and cannot be explored from a skin-deep relationship.
"and mind and attend
the fractured rudder of shoulder-blade,"
The two verbs "mind and attend" have been used to present the wife's careful treatment of her husbands injured body and mind.
The second to the eighth stanza form a ladder like structure which have an extended metaphor throughout of emotional and internal injuries which are metaphorically symbolised by external injuries.
The ladder structure is reflective of the effort involved in the wife's gradual search for answers.
Meanwhile, parts of the husbands body have been metaphorically compared to inanimate objects rather than living things which suggests the damage has taken away some of his humanity.
“And finger and thumb the parachute silk of his punctured lung”
It could be seen that the wife is trying to mend him here, connotations of “silk” being soft and fragility, representing how he is traumatised by war making him distressed by his past experiences and she is trying her hardest to mend him and try and help him forget.
“Only then could I bind the struts and climb the rungs of his broken ribs,”
There is more mending and work that is needed to be down stressing how broken and fragmented he is by his experiences “only then” implying that more work needs to be down. Extended metaphor “punctured lung” “broken ribs” “grazed heart” she is emotionally putting him back together not physically. His mental instability is symbolised through physical injuries sustained by the soilder.
“and feel the hurt of his grazed heart”
The use of the connective “and” represents how the list of his injuries carries on, the soldier could be said to be an “everyman” as Armitage is using this soldier to represent many others who will experienced and will then suffer post both world wars. The wife speaks as if she is too feeling his pain she is feeling and sharing his emotion, she is now expressing how the pain is now too emotional.
“Grazed” is used to present how the injury will not be permanent and will fade and get better over a period of time, the graze could symbolise the soldiers minds and how they will only be damaged at its worse for a period of time and not eternity.
“Skirting along, only then could I picture the scan,”
She could be seen as assessing his body, she is “skirting along” she is feeling his injuries and by putting a picture to scan it shows how she is getting an overall picture of what has happened to him both physically and mentally.
"The foetus of metal beneath his chest
where the bullet had finally come to rest."
The metaphorical language, 'foetus of metal' to describe the 'bullet' is effective as it conveys the growth of the partner's pain as the word 'foetus' is often associated with new life and growth and that the 'foetus' has been growing beneath his chest. The word 'finally' gives a sense of closure as the person reaches the end of the 'path of physical destruction' taken by the bullet. Armitage continues with his rhyming couplets as the search goes on 'chest' and 'rest'.
“'Then I widened the search,
traced the scarring back to its source'”
The use of the connector “then” shows that the search isn't over as the speaker may have found all the “scarring” caused by the “bullet” but still does not know the source of the pain. So she traces “the scarring back to its source”.
“to a sweating, unexploded mine
buried deep in his mind, around which”
The speaker arrives at the “source” of her partner's pain, which is “buried deep in his mind” which implies some type of psychological injury, 'post traumatic stress disorder' perhaps. The metaphorical language used here “mine” to describe the bundle of emotions and memories “buried” away is from the semantic field of warfare. The use of the verb “sweating” is effective in giving the impression that this “mine” is close to bursting point.
“every nerve in his body had tightened and closed.
Then, and only then, did I come close.”
The use of the word “every” suggests that the psychological damage hurt so much that “his body” “buried” it away. The repetition of the connector “then” and the words “only then” are effective in showing the final last step of 'The Manhunt' as the speaker finds what she is looking for.
The word “close” adds to the fact that the speaker was only able to get “near” to the cause of the pain, but not to cure it adds to the sadness of the line. The part “then, and only then” could be interpreted as only after all these things had been accomplished could the speaker come “to a close” and just, rest.
How does the poet use language to portray the relationship between the speaker and her partner?