Comparative Analysis of Robert Frost's and Wilfred Owen's Poems

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Words: 1143 |

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6 min read

Published: Sep 14, 2018

Words: 1143|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: Sep 14, 2018

‘Out, out' is a poem written by Robert Frost who tells the story of a boy that had his life taken from him in an extremely upsetting circumstance. In comparison to this, "Disabled" by Wilfred Owen portrays a young man that has left part of himself behind in the war. Both poems assert ideas that insinuate brevity along with fragility of both characters in the poem, in addition to the essence that life will go on, that a singular life such as those of the characters are insignificant on a universal scale as when the young soldier from "Disabled" returned from war he is forgotten and the boy from ‘Out, out' where the people around him moved on even when he had just died. "Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more". This is undeniably a reference from Shakespeare's Macbeth that illustrates the image of a wavering candlelight that is fragile and brief. It also recalls the spirit of life, which at the same time is similarly brief and easily snatched away. Unlike ‘Disabled', ‘Out, out'

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In Robert Frost's ‘Out, out-‘, the tragic accident does not place the boy at fault. On the other hand, Owen's ‘Disabled' was partially placed the young man at fault. The fact that it was not the boy's fault in ‘Out, out-‘ encourages pity within the audience because they know that there was nothing that could have been done to stop it. Similarly, in ‘Disabled', the young man is brainwashed with propaganda to believe that the war is grand and fun. This encourages the audience to feel pity for the young man as he believed that the war would not be able to harm him. The despair induced in the reader at the child's unexpected death and the soldier's erroneous assumption that war glorious is a prime feature of both ‘Disabled' and ‘Out, out' The soldier had believed that war would be magnificent, but he, however, returns home unheroic and shunned by other "whole" people. His perception of life and his view of war have been affected radically by his wrong choice. The young soldier had initially been caught up in an elaborate dream with ‘jewelled hilts for daggers in plaid socks' and of "smart salutes, and care of arms; and leave, and pay arrears." And yet, as he comes to understand, these are all illusions he managed to trick and commit himself to.

The wonderful war image that he had formed in his childhood is soon changed and his high hopes contrast with the short, blunt reality where he will ‘spend a few sick years in Institutes, and do what the rules consider wise'. We, as the audience, feel pity and sympathy for him as his anticipation is let down and he is ultimately disappointed. Furthermore, there is a shocking realization that all he had held true as a child when he "liked a blood smear down his leg" and "thought he'd better join" was proved to be wrong by his experiences and the reader feels the urge to give him some small measure of comfort that he is deprived of now due to his deformities and he "noticed how the women's eyes passed fro him to the strong men that were whole." Similarly, in ‘Out, out' the reader feels anguish at the painful way the child must have died. The saw ‘as if to prove saws knew what supper meant, leapt out at the boy's hand' This is an example of vivid imagery that allows us to feel the events taking place and to understand all the feelings and sensory overload in the scene, and therefore we suffer along with the child. Some forewarning of his death is evident with the repetition of "snarled and rattled" hinting at the impending death and the pain that is likely to be experienced, which produces a more powerful reaction from the reader, who feels a measure of grief and empathy when they realize something and is about to occur whereas, ironically, the boy is still unknowingly completing his normal routine, unsuspecting. His terrified, angry and panicky voice when he screams "Don't let him sister!", in addition, he makes the reader feel increased empathy and pity for his plight. As he to such an extent that he is unable to organize his thought and feels pure terror. He will lose his family as well as miss out on all the beautiful things in life that he yet to understand and feel –such as the calm vista at the start of the poem and all the ‘sweet-scented stuff' as well as the ‘five mountain ranges…

Under the sunset far into Vermont'. The persona's strength of feeling and compassion, that he wished they might have ‘called it a day…to please the boy' deepens and intensifies the regret and wretchedness of the scene because it suggests that I the day had ended early then the boy might not have died so brutally. The melancholy and longing for what could have been is highlighted and this makes the death the most poignant moment of the poem. Both Robert Frost and Wilfred Owen use the fact that the main characters in both the poems are young. This is shown through multiple references to the character being a boy in ‘Out, Out-‘. An example of this is: "Leaped out at the boy's hand" and "Doing a man's work, though a child at heart-". Similarly, in ‘Disabled', the character is shown as young when the army recruitment officers allowed him into the army: "Smiling they wrote his lie: aged 19 years". This encourages sympathy as both the characters are only young. Unlike ‘Disabled', ‘Out, out-‘ uses personification to make the tragic accident almost seem like murder. Personification is shown in the texts first line: "The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard" and lines 15,16: "As if to prove saws knew what supper meant, leapt out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap-". This encourages sympathy for the boy because murder is much worse than a tragic accident. In ‘Disabled' the text states "poured it down shell-holes till veins ran dry" – This could mean that "it" would be the characters life, and how he was originally full of life, but now he has nothing and is left bare.

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Owen describes this loss of life as a loss of "half his life" in which he will have to spend the rest "in institutes, isolated from the community and that of his past". Similarly to this, ‘Out, out' uses "As he swung towards them holding up the hand Half in appeal, but half as if to keep the life from spilling". This is talking, much like ‘Disabled', about blood leaving their bodies, and depicting blood as the life essence of the two people.

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Comparative Analysis Of Robert Frost’s And Wilfred Owen’s Poems. (2018, September 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
“Comparative Analysis Of Robert Frost’s And Wilfred Owen’s Poems.” GradesFixer, 27 Sept. 2018,
Comparative Analysis Of Robert Frost’s And Wilfred Owen’s Poems. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 May 2024].
Comparative Analysis Of Robert Frost’s And Wilfred Owen’s Poems [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Sept 27 [cited 2024 May 28]. Available from:
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