The Housekeeper Analysis by Robert Frost

Explantion of The Housekeeper by Robert Frost

The Housekeeper by Robert Frost is not a poem but has been called a “dramatic tale” and “a tragedy” by Robert Frost himself in his letters, was published in Frost’s collection of works called “North of Boston” in 1915. It pans out a conversation between an old woman, and another person, whose identity we do not know of. This person has come to meet John, the old woman’s son, but it turns out that John has gone to the person’s house to meet him. While waiting for John, they engage in a conversation about Estelle, the Housekeeper, which is the focus of the poem.

The title of this poem is ironic because the relationship between John and Estelle was not just of a housekeeper and house owner, but one of love, even if the love did end for Estelle.

The Housekeeper has been written like a dramatic interaction has been adapted into ten minute plays all over, and thus lacks a rhyme script.

Analysis of the Housekeeper by Robert Frost

The Housekeeper by Robert Frost is a poem which primarily deals with human relationships and their breakdown. Here the relationship in question is one between the man, John and his housekeeper, Estelle. We get to know about the relationship shared by these two individuals through the conversation between John’s friend and his mother, which fill the verses of the poem.  The scene of the poem is set when we learn the mother is so old that she can’t even open the door for the friend, nor can she remember for whom she is knitting the socks. She talks of how Estelle has run off and doesn’t plan on returning. She doesn’t have the ability to bring Estelle back, contrary to what John thinks. The conversation then turns to what will John do once Estelle is gone. The focus is on the practical aspects, i.e. how will he eat etc., not on the emotional aspects. Once the mother leaves as well, she doesn’t see John continuing to live in the house for very long. According to her, John is very immature for his age and doesn’t know how to handle things; which is where the crux of his problems with Estelle. It is this attitude of John of being unable to understand human relationships that lead him to think that just because Estelle and he are living together like a man and wife makes them a man and wife. He was dependent on her for the practical aspects of the relationship and never for emotional aspects. While he is not seen as bereft of emotion, as we can see he showcases both anger (throwing of the hoe) and compassion (towards the chickens), when it comes to Estelle he has never been the romantic kind. It may be so that he did love Estelle, as we can see from his belief of being “better than married” but according to his mother his mistake was to let Estelle think of something else. As a result of this, Estelle runs away and marries someone else. Here we see a difference of opinion. While the friend is in the corner of John, the mother sides with Estelle. This conversation ends abruptly when John shows up. The poem ends with John going to talk to his friend.

Also Read:  The Lockless Door Summary by Robert Frost