A critical analysis of ‘The Two of Us’ by Simon Armitage Essay

The poem ‘The Two of Us’ is about two men who are very similar, except one has an extremely lavish lifestyle while the other is very poor. The poem is written from the point of view of the poor man about their relationship.

The poem is made up of mostly eight line paragraphs except one nine line paragraph and one two line paragraph. The two line paragraph is used at the very end of the poem. The fact that it is separated from the rest of the text makes this final statement more poignant and stays in the readers head for longer.

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Mr Armitage uses a lot of non-standard English – ‘sat sitting’, ‘I cant see it me’.

This is used as a method of exaggerating the difference between them. Hearing a stereo-typical common accent to describe these predominantly upper class things makes them seem even more unattainable. The accent also serves to create a detailed image of the speaker in the mind of the reader. The writer uses several methods to show how one man has things in excess and the other has nothing. ‘Someone’s seen you swimming lengths in gold top milk, me parched’. Now this is obviously litos but shows the sort of wealth this man has, and again reinforces the huge difference between the two men.

In the opening paragraph the writer continually repeats the words ‘You’ and ‘Your’, this is a very impolite way of addressing someone and so from the very beginning the audience can tell the tone of the poem and that this is a very angry piece. All of the sentences in the first paragraph begin with ‘You’, this suggests that the writer is speaking directly to the other person. Although later in the poem when he begins to list all their differences in detail it becomes evident that the writer is ranting about him. This makes the piece very fluid and reinforces the anger behind it. It does not seem written but as though he is saying thing directly from his head.

There is some use of comedy in the third paragraph in the form of a pun. “Me making light of making do with pet and flint for heat, a glow-worm for a reading lamp. No match”. I think that this is to show him laughing at himself, his position and how unfair it is.

The third paragraph begins with the word “and”. As this is in lower case and at the beginning of the sentence it suggests that he is so angry/frustrated that he is not thinking about correct punctuation. This effect creates a very real sense of anger. Also this connecting word at the beginning of the sentence suggests that he is carrying on and on without stopping.

In the fourth paragraph Mr Armitage uses listing to exaggerate everything he has “chopper, roller, horse-drawn carriage, micro-light, skidoo”. The listing makes it seem as though the inventory of his belongings is never ending really exaggerates it.

In the first line of the fourth paragraph Armitage describes the Richmonds’ possessions as “The Full Set” this demeans what he ahs making it seem more like he is collecting model cars and makes it seem very childlike.

In line twenty eight Armitage uses profane language “you’re fucking loaded, you”, this is designed to shock the audience and show his aggression towards the person.

After describing his huge list of the finest expensive methods of transport, the poor man describes his own. There are many different techniques used here. Armitage uses onomatopoeia “clop” to create an exact image of how he moves. There is also use of alliteration “foot from field!” this ‘FF’ sound creates the sound of walking on grass and so creates another image fro the reader.

In line thirty the writer creates a regular rhythm pattern “these clogs I’m shod with” this heavy plodding rhythm mirrors the way he walks in them and accentuates the burden.

In the firth paragraph the writer uses parallel phrasing, “same neck same chin” this represents how similar the two of them are”. Sibilance is also used “some sameness in the skin” this exaggerates how similar they are.

In the fifth paragraph there is an extended plan metaphor in which Armitage links the two men, “same shoot”, “taken from the tree”, “related to the root” this represents a family tree and how they are linked together. This image then extends throughout the whole poem “and have them planted in the coffin”. I see this as like the roots of a tree, extending out.

I really enjoyed analysing this poem, I think it has so many different metaphors, and hidden meanings that everyone can read something different from it. Also it is accessible for every one, educated, well read people can appreciate the imagery and other well crafted devices but uneducated people can also enjoy it. One image which I especially enjoyed was “or else they’ve tapped me on the back and you’ve turned round”.

The piece is very angry and that anger seems genuine. The fourth paragraph is so well crafted with so may techniques that there is a difference meaning every time I read it.