Poetry - Robert Frost "Out, Out-"

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A. “Out, Out – ” by Robert Frost
1. The title is a quote taken from Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth. In the context of the play, in which Macbeth says “Out, Out brief candle” (which he says after being informed of his wife’s death) both suggests and conveys the brevity of life. This is to say, Frost writes about the uncertainty and transitory state of life in this poem. He compares life to a candle, which can be blown out rather simply. The darkness left after a candle after being blown out can be interpreted as the void left in people’s lives when their loved one dies. The dash leaves the poem open. Frost explores the theme of death and fragility of human life in this poem. In the last two lines, “No more to build on there. And they, since they | Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs”, suggests that people must continue after the death of a loved one. There is a similarity between the reactions of Macbeth to Lady Macbeth’s death, and the way “they” react to the boy’s death. 2. The first instance of this can be identified in lines 1 and 2, “The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard | And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood…”, where the buzz-saw is personified to create the image of an animal with a mind and a will of its own. It is being compared to a mindless animal. The second instance can be seen in lines 7 and 8, “And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled, | As it ran light, or had to bear a load”, are representative of the movement of the saw, by means of repetition. This emphasizes how the saw is central to the poem, and it keeps going relentlessly. The menacing saw goes on despite the interruptions. The buzz-saw is being compared to a relentless entity. The third instance is the leaping movement of the saw, as seen in lines 14, 15, and 16 – “At the word, the saw, | As if to prove saws know what supper meant, | Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap - …” The buzz-saw is being compared again to an animal. The...
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