Drummer Hodge by Tom Hardy

Lydia Steiner
Mind Map by , created almost 6 years ago

AS level English Literature Mind Map on Drummer Hodge by Tom Hardy, created by Lydia Steiner on 01/06/2014.

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Lydia Steiner
Created by Lydia Steiner almost 6 years ago
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Drummer Hodge by Tom Hardy
1 Context
1.1 Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was born in Dorset and was encouraged to develop a love for both education and stories by his mother, Jemima.
1.2 Hardy's first writing career was as a novelist rather than a poet. Hardy published Tess of the D'Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure that are now very well thought of but were criticised at the time.
1.3 Such was the level of criticism for Jude the Obscure, Hardy decided to move away from writing books and turned to poetry.
1.4 The death of his wife Emma in 1912 had a huge impact on Hardy and he wrote many poems about her and his feelings for her.
1.5 Themes that recur in Hardy's writings are injustice, love, break ups, disappointment, fate and the unfair treatment of women.
2 Subject Matter
2.1 Dummer Hodge was originally published in 1899 under the title ‘The Dead Drummer’, only a few weeks after the start of the Second Boer Wa
2.2 The Boer Wars were fought between the British and the Dutch settlers of the Boer republics in what is now South Africa.
2.3 Hardy was against the Boer War. Like many liberals of the time, he thought the Boers were simply defending their homes. Why did the British feel the need to keep their territory so strongly? Perhaps the diamond and gold mines of the area had something to do with it.
2.4 Drummer Hodge describes the burial of a British soldier during the Second Boer War, in South Africa. He is buried without ceremony, a coffin, or a gravestone.
2.5 His humble roots are contrasted with the exotic South African landscape, and the poet repeatedly refers to the unfamiliar stars that will watch over Drummer Hodge’s grave.
2.6 Finally he introduces the idea that Hodge’s body becomes part of the landscape, so that he has some permanent home there. Despite his short life, the Drummer has become part of something that is far more permanent.
3 Form and Structure
3.1 The poem is formed of three stanzas, each of six lines, with a very regular metre and rhyme scheme.
3.2 The lines alternate between 8 and 6 syllables, with the rhyme scheme of ABABAB for each verse.
3.3 This is a very common metre for traditional English hymns to follow. It seems appropriate, therefore, for this poem, about the burial of a young soldier.
4 Language and Imagery
4.1 Boer is a term that describes the first Dutch settlers of the area that is now South Africa.
4.2 The concept of the drummer is a key image. Drummers were young lads who beat the drum to keep time as soldiers marched. There is a sense of innocence and youth here, which gives his death more pathos.
4.3 The image of the constellations is repeated at the end of each stanza. In the first two stanzas they are "foreign" and "strange", but in the final verse, although they are "strange-eyed", they are linked closely with Hodge himself. His own "stars" are also there. The use of celestial imagery elevates the dead soldier, making him seem more important and more valued, in contrast to the careless way in which he was buried.
4.4 The sense of value and belonging together contrast with the lack of care shown for him by his fellow soldiers, which is ironic considering the reverence with which the names of the war dead are usually treated.
4.5 The use of Boer vocabulary introduces some unfamiliar combinations of sounds – the "kopje-crest" for example, combining consonants that are not usually found together.
4.6 Similarly the "broad Karoo", where the assonance emphasises the strange name, sounds almost nonsensical. These words emphasise the exotic location, particularly when contrasted with the "homely" soldier.
5 Attitudes, Themes and Ideas
5.1 There is a certain amount of anger in this poem, in the contrast between the way that Hodge is treated by his own fellows, and the acceptance and value that he finds within the "unknown plain".
5.2 His "homely" (that is, lowly) origins are emphasised, as is his youth: Hodge is unimportant so they throw his body into a grave "uncoffined".
5.3 The unimportance of Hodge in life forms the basis of the strange contrast in the poem. Despite his lack of importance in life, in death Hodge becomes part of something that will outlast the war, and all the soldiers who buried him: the land.
5.4 He will never be a hero but the reference to "his stars" seems to suggest that Hodge even has a divine element
5.5 By concentrating on, and elevating, a single unimportant soldier in the war, Hardy is able to say something about the value of all life, and to make a powerful anti-war statement.

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