Demystifying the Other A Study in Owen’s “Strange Meeting” and Hardy’s “The Man He Killed”

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Hamid B. Abdulsalm


This paper harnesses the term Other, though not in a strictly postcolonial sense, to uncover an essential role war poetry played to reveal a hidden side often overshadowed by war propaganda. The two poems, Hardy’s “The Man He Killed” and Owen’s “Strange Meeting,” serve as effective counter war propaganda tools that demystify a crucial element of war ideology that the enemy is an Other: The enemy is unlike me. Wilfred, an outspoken poet of the evils of war, and Thomas Hardy, who penned in some of his poems his abhorrence to war, show that the Other which stands for their enemies could have been a friend had the spatiotemporal factors been different. Both poets enact an imaginary meeting between the speakers and their enemies. Moreover, the paper traces the various poetic techniques that are employed by those poets to achieve this goal. Whereas Owen, for instance, uses pararhyme to depict the fallacy of war claims by drawing attention to the unlikelihood of the meeting in real life, Hardy resorts to punctuation marks to probe the sense of guilt his speaker endures as a result of killing his “enemy.” The form of the two poems contributes to the sense that war propaganda fails to sustain itself in legitimizing the act of killing and thus providing a shield against the feeling of remorse. Throughout the two poems, the Other is no longer a stranger nor is an enemy in the first place. Owen finds that his enemy is a poet who has had similar dreams and ambitions. Thomas Hardy, on the Other hand, reflects how he could have offered the man he killed in battle a drink or even lent him money had they met elsewhere.


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How to Cite
Abdulsalm, H. B. (2020) “Demystifying the Other: A Study in Owen’s “Strange Meeting” and Hardy’s ‘The Man He Killed’”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1), pp. 63-68. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v3n1y2020.pp63-68.
Author Biography

Hamid B. Abdulsalm, Department of English, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Koya University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Hamid B. Abdulsalam has a Ph.D. in modern American poetry. Hamid is currently the director of Behar English Language Center where he has taught several EFL classes, and a member of the editorial board of Koya University journal of humanities and social sciences (JHSS). He has authored and co-authored a number of articles on literary issues. He teaches literature classes and graduate courses at Koya University, and has participated in a number of workshops on English language and literature. His academic expertise has been sharpened by attending an intensive course on American Literature at the University of Massachusetts as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar, and an intensive course on English language teaching at Spring International Language Center, UARK. Hamid finds much pleasure and creative energy in the EFL and poetry classroom.


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