Compare How Robert Frost and Wilfred Owen Communicate the Theme of Loss in ‘Out, Out-’ and “Disabled”.

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Compare how Robert Frost and Wilfred Owen communicate the theme of loss in ‘Out, Out-’ and “Disabled”.

In the two poems “Out, Out-” and “Disabled”, a similar theme of loss is portrayed. Both of these poems deal with the subject of physical loss, as both protagonists of these poems experience accidental amputation. Both Robert Frost and Wilfred Owen manage to captivate their audience’s attention, and also a certain degree of sympathy for the protagonists’ misfortune. They do this successfully, with the use of common literary techniques and linguistic skills, such as simile, metaphor, personification, contrast, and many more literary devices, which range from obvious to very subtle.

“Out, Out-”, written by American poet Robert Frost, is a very dark, death-related poem, which revolves around a boy, who experiences an accident which causes him to lose one of his limbs. This leads to his premature termination. After this incident occurs, people simply “move on with their affairs”, emphasizing the meaningless and worthlessness of one’s life. The title seems very ambiguous, but it is an allusion of a line from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. The soliloquy is spoken when Macbeth just realises that his wife, Lady Macbeth, passed away. Macbeth compares his wife’s life with a flickering candle that can be blown out in seconds – “Out, Out, brief candle!” This soliloquy emphasizes on the insignificance and vulnerability of life, which is also one of the centre meanings of “Out, Out-”.

The author starts off this poem with a quintessentially lovely scene, describing the “sweet scented stuff” being carried by the breeze, and the Vermont mountain ranges visible under the sunset. Despite starting off like so, the poem moves on to become dark and sinister. “And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled” in line 7, uses a combination of different techniques. The use of “snarled and rattled” personifies the buzz saw, creating the image that it is a ruthless, savage beast, about to lunge an attack on its prey. Also, the use of “snarled and rattled” is repeated, and the repetition of this cacophonic sound reminds the reader of the brutality of the buzz saw.

Contrast is frequently used in this poem. As mentioned above, the opening of the poem, being deceptively lovely, is contrasting to the darker themes, deeper into the poem. On line 23, Frost describes the protagonist boy as “Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart.” The use of contrast here shows the true reality of the boy himself, and it may possibly anger the reader, that this job eventually led to his unfortunate death, partially because he was working at such a premature age.

Frost describes this incident, as if it could have all been avoided. “Call it a day, I wish they might have said…” (Line 10) means that the family of this boy did not give him the rest of the day off, and forced him to continue on working. This gives the reader a sense of loss and misfortune, as this makes them feel like this incident could have been easily averted. Also, this quote is interesting, as it is written in the first person, and the use of first person further connects to the reader, as it seems like the author is directly speaking to them. This is clever, because it makes the reader feel as if he or she is actually watching the incident as well, further relating to it, and feeling the sorrow that comes out of it. The sense of loss is further developed, by making the reader have sympathy for the boy. “The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh…” (Line 19) is a perfect example of this. This quote describes the reaction of when the boy’s hand gets accidentally sliced off, and his reaction is very contradictory. Frost’s use of the word “laugh” seems out of place, and the word “rueful” is very seldom related to laughing. This use of contrasting words makes the reader feel sympathy for the boy, as the boy, being naïve, does not know how to react properly to...
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