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Comparing Relationships

In: English and Literature

Submitted By TheSlain
Words 564
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In Charlotte Mew’s ‘The Farmer’s Bride’ and Simon Armitage’s ‘The Manhunt’, difficult relationships are presented by speakers who are dealing with an emotionally closed partner. Both poems explore how relationships are affected by mental health issues.
In ‘The Farmer’s Bride’, the Farmer marries a girl without getting to know her. As the marriage progresses, the wife’s mental illness gradually develops – at first she ‘turn[s] afraid’, until she tries to run away, and will only speak to animals. This causes the farmer to become jealous, impatient and possibly mentally unstable. In the fourth stanza, the farmer describes his wife as she is to nature – ‘sweet... to her wild self’, then asks ‘but what to me?’ This short sentence reflects his inability to understand why she is so ‘sweet’ to nature but not to him – this is the source of his frustration. ‘Her wild self’ could be interpreted as the farmer saying she is herself in the wild, or as him calling her wild. This frustration is displayed in the last stanza, where he says ‘’Tis but a stair betwixt us’. The stairs suggest that the farmer thinks that if he can get past this obstacle between the couple, he can have a normal relationship with his wife, although in reality, it is her heart that is closed to him, not just her door. The final stanza is laid out so that it looks like stairs, for a visual as well as verbal picture. The word ‘but’ could represent his frustration – to the point that he considers forcing himself upon her. The farmer wants passion, but he does not consider love to be important anymore.
The woman in ‘The Manhunt’, however, knows that her partner loves her, but prioritises his recovery over passion. The ‘blown hinge of his lower jaw’ could represent either a physical injury from his war, or the fact that he can’t talk about his trauma, raising the question as to whether he is injured or emotionally traumatised. Similarly to how short sentences are used in ‘The Farmer Bride’, Armitage uses short line stanzas ‘The Manhunt’ to reflect the fragility and weakness of the relationship between the couple, implying that the couple’s relationship has been ripped, and so the couple are now in the process of trying to piece it back together.
Furthermore, in each stanza, the first line is normally something to that the wife is trying to do in order to heal her husband in some way ‘mind and attend’, and the second line normally describes the extent of the husband’s injuries: ‘the fractured rudder of shoulder blade’. The painful verb ‘fractured’ reveals just how much the war has affected him, where as the tender verbs ‘mind and attend’ shows the patience the wife must have in order to reach out to her damaged husband, which contrasts with how Charlotte Mew shows that the husband in ‘The Farmers Bride’ is impatient and often erratic with the way he goes about his relationship with his wife.
So in conclusion, in ‘The Manhunt’, the husband is suffering from post-traumatic stress and his wife has to patiently and gently try to rebuild their once strong relationship. In order to do this, the wife must metaphorically hunt for her husband. However, in ‘The Farmer’s Bride’, the husband has to literally chase and capture his wife because she keeps running away from him.…...

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