Robert Frost: Poems

Death as a Theme in Out, Out- 11th Grade

Death is all around, yet very few people notice it. The poem “Out, Out–”, by Robert Frost, is about a boy that is cutting wood and due to a momentary concentration lapse, chops off his hand and bleeds to death. The people around him are at first startled by what had happened, but immediately continue with their daily lives. Robert Frost uses illusion, structure, and imagery to make his poem convey criticism to how little humans pay attention to the dead.

Robert Frost cleverly named the poem “Out, Out–” as an illusion to the verse in Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, “Out, out brief candle” (5.5.23). The poem reflects the mood of the Macbeth’s quote. In the play, Macbeth hears about the death of his wife and responds coldly, “She should have died hereafter./ There would have been a time for such a word” (5.5.17-18). Robert Frost writes this poem in reaction to that uncaring response. He portrays the onlookers of the boy as uncaring, “[...] And they, since they/ Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs” (31, 33-34). This paints them in a very negative light. The onlookers should have been more concerned with what happened to this boy, just as Macbeth should have cared more about what had happened to his wife. This poem also sets...

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