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Home Burial’s Character Analysis

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Robert Frost’s Home Burial is an absorbing and engaging description of marriage life and the events that follow the tragic loss of a family member. This narrative describes the confrontation that is shared between a wife and her husband in the aftermath of grieving for their departed son. The poem was written by Frost after he and his wife experienced the loss of their four-year-old son. Because of this terrible incident, Frost was able to deliver the experiences and frustrations that husband and wives go through after the occurrence of the tragedy. A tragic hero is one that demonstrates strength in the face of daunting circumstances and is also a source of strength to others.

At the beginning of the narrative, the husband seems to be mainly apathetic about the loss of their son, but it soon becomes clear that his way of grieving is different from that of his wife. The poem demonstrates that men have different way of grieving from the one typical of women. The husband shows strength and composure. He proceeds in carrying out his everyday activities by stating that ‘three hazy dawns coupled with a rainy day are enough to rot the finest birth fence built by a man’. The husband illustrates the traits of a classic tragic hero, as it is regarded by the society, and expects men to be the figure of strength and poise in the face of tragic circumstances. This example shows how the husband is trying to move on from the loss through resorting to work. Additionally, the husband demonstrates heroism while speaking about his departed son and saying ‘can’t a man speak of his own dead child’. Through the use of words, the husband is able to keep his son’s memory alive.

However, the husband is also selfish and insensitive and lacks respect for his wife’s feelings. The wife’s sensitive, unrelenting and stubborn nature generates anger in the husband who is ready to use force against her. The wife is too attached that even in walking down the stairs she is frequently ‘looking over her shoulder at some fear’. She is a heroin to some extend, as she is unable to forget her son’s memory so quickly, the way she assumes her husband has done. However, she fails to accept the tragedy and to move on with her life. The husband is domineering and unsympathetic in this situation, which might be viewed as his own way of being strong for both of them as he displays frustration be it in somewhat gentle tone of voice.

Feminine audience may want to view the narrative from a totally feministic point of view, and insist that the male character is completely wrong and the female character is the victim of lack of genuine concern. The couple’s different approaches to grieving are seen as the tip of an already existent iceberg in their marriage as the narrative progresses and not as the lack of understanding from the husband. Many of these problems lie in the wife’s self absorbed behavior of consuming anger and unhappiness. Her attitude towards her marriage and life in general is so fine lined that she ends up creating a drift in the relationship, as she makes them both victims of her personal issues. The author’s intention of making his audience read through the lines and capture the selfish nature of a person, and the power their misery has in causing havoc to others is clear.

The husband is the stronger of the two characters and he demonstrates heroism by trying to move on from the loss, albeit in a sensitive way to his wife. Heroism comes from finding a silver lining in the middle of the storm, and guiding others in weathering the storm as well. The wife is not particularly portraying heroism in tragedy as she displays emotional wreck and does not want to accept reality. She is clearly self absorbed and tries to use the opportunity of death as a scapegoat to lashing out at her husband to her anger and unhappiness in the marriage. 

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