Home Burial by Robert Frost Essay

For anyone that has lost a loved one, the grief in often times unbearable. No matter what the cause of death, sadness engulfs all feelings and emotions. These feelings are further heightened when a couple loses their first child. Sometimes, the grief is just too much to take that the marriage or relationship falls apart. Grief and sadness are genuine and real emotions. People feel these in real-life situations. The poem, “Home Burial” by Robert Frost, highlights how death and the grief it causes ruins relationships.

Tragedy creates barriers between people.

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Reader Response

A reader of the poem would experience the grief and sadness in the poem. It talks about a family tragedy and grieving over the loss of a child. From my own reading, the poem gives description of the graves that further describe the theme and extends the ideas of what is happening. For example, the male character said:

“The wonder is I didn’t see at once.

I never noticed it from here before.

I must be wonted to it – that’s the reason.

The little graveyard where my people are!

So small the window frames the whole of it. (Lines 21-24)

But I understand: it is not the stones,

But the child’s mound—” (lines 30-31)

This demonstrates that the poem is depicting a sad event that had occurred and where it is mentioning the clear idea of a tragedy. I personally feel that this poem best describe a couple grieving over a loss of their only child which makes them confused as to how to just move on back to their normal life. But also with the struggle of having arguments between them, it is clear that they both have problems. Just looking at one another brings up the grief that they both cannot seem to express and this makes the poem seem even sadder to read.

New Criticism – Plot

The poem starts out with the narrator describing the two characters whose interaction becomes the center of the story. They speak of what they saw in the distance from a small window up above the second floor of the house. The story further continues with the two getting into a heated argument and despair over the loss of their child. An example of their argument is:

“There you go sneering now!”

“I’m not, I’m not!

You make me angry. I’ll come down to you.

 God, what a woman! And it’s come to this,

 A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead.” (Lines 72-75)

As the woman attempts to leave the house, the tension between the characters heightens. The exchange of words is the climax of the plot. The denouement is reached as the woman finishes expressing her emotions. The end of the poem is signaled as the husband says:

“There, you have said it all and you feel better.

You won’t go now.  You’re crying.  Close the door.

The heart’s gone out of it: why keep it up?

Amy!  There’s someone coming down the road!” (Lines 112-115)

The plot is very confrontational but also sad in a modern day view of a tragedy. It is very believable due to the realistic confrontation that is happening in the poem and how people usually react when they are in heated arguments between one another.

New Criticism – Character

As the characters in the poem interact, their personalities, feelings, and emotions are revealed. As the poem moves along, readers get to know each of the characters better. The poem has five characters a Man (unknown), Woman (Amy), Narrator, Child (Baby), and a Person who is unknown coming toward the house.  They all seem to be in a universal role of connecting to each other throughout the turns of events that’s occurring though each line of the poem.

The characters are very realistic. The feelings they express and the manner by which they interact are common occurrences in real life. The realism is further revealed by the fact that the two main characters argue over something that is real, grief. In a way, their argument can be seen as a lovers’ quarrel. For example:

He said twice over before he knew himself.

“Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?”

Not you! — Oh, where’s my hat? Oh, I don’t need it!

I must get out of here. I must get air.—

I don’t know rightly whether any man can.”

“Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time.

Listen to me. I won’t come down the stairs.” (Lines 37-43)

This demonstrates how the poem has a connection with a few characters of the poem and made the poem seem very believable in the understanding of a lover’s quarrel that is going on in the reading. In addition, the character’s speech and the tone that’s perceived from reading these lines make it feel like I am watching a live argument between a couple. This mainly shows that the reading and lines of these characters seem very believable in a notion of actually seeing this event occur in front of your very own understanding of the poem.

New Criticism- Setting

The realism of the poem is made more evident by the vividness of the setting. As one reads the poem, he would be able to create a picture of where the story takes place. Readers would get to see that the story is set in the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s in a two level house in the country side. There also seems to be a small graveyard that is around the back of the house which further explains that it is in the country side. The setting can be clearly pictured from the following lines of the poem:

“He saw her from the bottom of the stairs

Before she saw him. She was starting down” (lines 1-2).

“The wonder is I didn’t see at once.

I never noticed it from here before.

I must be wonted to it – that’s the reason.

The little graveyard where my people are!

So small the window frames the whole of it” (lines 21-25).

These lines demonstrate that the setting is in a two story house and that the character is describing a small graveyard that can only happen in a country side background and not in a city. This setting enhances the realism of the story because it has been described and has been given a clear idea of the current background where the event of this poem is happening. But also, the way the characters talk sounds like old English and that further proves the idea that this poem is talking about a setting in the early 1900’s.  So in a way, the poem has very clearly shown that the poem’s setting is happening in the past, and it is occurring in the country side. So in a way this has clearly shown that the setting is very believable in the description given in the poem.

New Criticism- Universal Truth

One of the few Universal Truth’s that I understand from the poem is that it grief and sadness can ruin relationships. When people, in this case couples, fail to express their emotions arguments arise. The lack of understanding and knowledge of what the other person needs causes tension which then leads to arguments. This is reasonable because in many relationships couples get into arguments to get to better understand the other persons needs and wants out of the relationship. For example, in the poem it, said:

“Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?”

Not you!—Oh, where’s my hat? Oh, I don’t need it! (Lines 36-37)

Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time.

Listen to me. I won’t come down the stairs.” (Lines 40-41)

“There something I should like to ask you, dear.”

“You don’t know how to ask it.”

“Help me, then.”(Lines 43-45)

“There, you have said it all and you feel better. (Line 111)

This demonstrates how the poems Universal Truth is trying to show the idea that a couple can get into an argument and also understand each other by talking it out with each other. In addition, it also shows how the idea of Universal Truth is trying to convey to people in real life who have the same or similar situations like in the poem can always work things out. The resolution, however, can only come about when the feelings and emotions of both individuals are fully expressed. But this is a believable idea of Universal Truth that every couple can work out their differences by telling each other how they feel and what they think.

Gender- Feminism

An important theme that the poem tackles is gender. The poem highlights certain issues that are present between men and women. From a feminist’s point of view, the poem is able to show that women have choices. Amy, the female character, has a choice to leave the man that she used to love. Amy has the freedom of choice and opportunity to leave her abusive relationship anytime. This is shown in the poem when the two are having a dispute:

“You – oh, you think the talk is all I must go –

Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you—”

 “If—you—do!” She was opening the door wider.

“Where do you mean to go? First tell me that.

I’ll follow and bring you back by force. I will!—” (lines 116-120).

This demonstrates the idea of Feminism when the character Amy wanted the choice to leave her sad and unhappy relationship. However, Amy also showed that she was in an abusive relationship that she is trying to run away from. But mainly Amy has shown that she will always have the opportunity to stand up for herself as an individual that has been oppressed by male dominance that is common in relationships.

Gender- Masculinism

Analyzing the poem from a masculinist perspective, it is evident that genuine concerns in relationships between men and women are shown. The male character is right for trying to talk to Amy about their problems as a couple. He tries his best to maintain his relationship as man who tries to understand Amy’s grieving over the loss of their child. For example, even when Amy did not want to talk about their lost of the child he said:

“Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?”

“Not you! – Oh, where’s my hat? Oh, I don’t need it!

I must get out of here. I must get air.—

I don’t know rightly whether any man can.”

“Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time.

Listen to me. I won’t come down the stairs.”(Lines 38-43)

“There’s something I should like to ask you, dear.”

“You don’t know how to ask it.”

“Help me, then.”(Lines 45-47)

This demonstrates the man is trying his best to do what is right to fix his relationship and further repair the disillusion that he is a villain in this poem for wanting to bury in own child. Furthermore, the evidence in this is genuine because every man who tries to make things right in a relationship never really is given a chance to. In addition, why the man is right for what he does is because he is trying not to further upset Amy’s emotion over the lost of their child. But also as a man this is his civil duty is to fix any problems in his relationship between him and his woman Amy.

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