The Death of the Hired Man is a notable literary work by Robert Frost. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of The Death of the Hired Man.
Depict the theme of alienation in the poems of Robert Frost.
Robert Frost (1874-1963) is a renowned American poet. He frequently explores the theme of alienation in his works. In Frost’s poetry, alienation often manifests as isolation, disconnection, or the feeling of being an outsider. This theme can be seen in various forms in his poems “After Apple Picking,” “The Birches,” “The Death of the Hired Man,” and “The Road Not Taken.”
Isolation in Nature: In many of Frost’s poems, nature is a setting that highlights the speaker’s isolation. In “After Apple Picking,” the speaker reflects on the isolated act of apple picking:
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
This weariness and separation from the labor-intensive task of harvesting apples symbolize the speaker’s alienation from the natural world.
Escapism and the Loneliness of Imagination: In “Birches,” Frost portrays the speaker’s hunger for escape from the world’s troubles by climbing birch trees:
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
The desire to escape reality and return later suggests a form of alienation where the speaker seeks solace in his imagination. He feels estranged from the everyday world.
The Rural-urban Divide: “The Death of the Hired Man” explores the theme of alienation through the contrast between the rural and urban worlds. Silas, the hired man, represents the rural, and his wife, Mary, symbolizes the urban. Silas returns to the farm seeking shelter and understanding:
Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.
This highlights the sense of alienation experienced by Silas in the cold, urban world and his yearning for a sense of belonging.
Choices and Regrets: “The Road Not Taken” is perhaps Frost’s most famous poem and deals with alienation. The speaker reflects on a choice they made in the past and the famous lines:
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Here, the speaker’s sense of alienation arises from their life choices, feeling isolated by their path compared to the one they didn’t.
Miscommunication and Emotional Distance: In “The Death of the Hired Man,” the poem explores miscommunication and emotional distance in relationships. Mary and Warren, the husband and wife, fail to connect truly:
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”
This line highlights Silas’s alienation and reflects the emotional alienation in the strained relationship between Mary and Warren.
In these poems, Robert Frost skillfully employs various aspects of life, nature, and human relationships to depict the theme of alienation. Frost’s poetry captures the complex and often profound experience of feeling disconnected from the world and others. These themes resound with readers, reminding us of the universality of the human condition and how we wrestle with our sense of alienation.