Robert Frost Home Burial - Selfish Misery Essay

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The Selfish Misery of Home Burial

Robert Frost's poem "Home Burial" is an intriguing portrait of a marital relationship that has gone wrong. Though at first glance it may seem that the cause for the couple's trouble is the death of their child, closer reading allows the reader to see that there are other serious, deeper-rooted problems at work. The couples differences in their approach to grieving is only the beginning of their problems.

Many of the real problems lie in the wife's self-absorbed attitude of consuming unhappiness and anger. Her outlook on her life and marriage is so narrow that she winds up making both her husband and herself victims of her issues. It is clear that Frost intended the reader to see through the
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Rather, she dehumanizes him in her mind, thinking of him as a "blind creature" who won't be able to understand her pain (15-16). When he asks what is disturbing her, she "refuse[s] him any help" (13). She is making the deliberate decision not to let him be a caring person. Even when he tells her that he's seen the cause of her window gazing, she refuses to believe him. Frost has her immediately contradict the husband's realization, using the word "challenge" to conjure up a better image of the wife's defensive nature.

While the husband is understanding of his wife's pain, she refuses to allow him any. The husband tells her to try and talk to him, insisting that he is "not so much unlike other folks" (63). Even though he admits he thinks she is perhaps to demonstrative in her grief, he wants to talk to her and help her. He acknowledges that she is unhappy, and he wants to be of assistance. The wife, however, isn't even willing to grant that her husband could be feeling any loss. When he begins to speak of their dead child, she recoils from him, crying "Don't, don't, don't, don't" (31-33). He asks "Can't a man speak of his own child he's lost?" (37), clearly confused that she would be so upset over the slightest mention of the child. She responds with an instant, "Not you!" (38), implying that only he isn't worthy of grieving. She doesn't appear to think he should be allowed any emotion at all, but still seems to expect him to be more
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