Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost Essay

1383 Words 6 Pages
Robert Frost uses metaphor and symbolism extensively in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’, developing deeper and more complex meanings from a superficially simple poem. Frost’s own analysis contributes greatly to our appreciation of the importance of metaphor, claiming that “metaphor [is] the whole of thinking,” inviting the reader to interpret the beautiful scene in a more profound way. However, the multitude of possible interpretations sees it being read as either carefully crafted lyric, a “suicide poem, [or] as recording a single autobiographical incident” . Judith Oster argues, therefore, that the social conditions individual to each reader tangibly alter our understanding of metaphor. Despite the simplicity of language, …show more content…
The issues that Frost explores are universalised by metaphor, with allusions to literary traditions such as in Hamlet’s soliloquy, where the nature of life is explored. These conflicts between our duties and the promise of “sleep” are pre-eminently relevant to both the personal dilemma faced by the traveller but also to the reader, who is no closer to determining whether the final conclusion made is one of suicide and ‘rest’ or whether the “promises” outweigh the traveller’s ‘intemperance’ with the woods.

As the poem becomes increasingly complex, the conventional metaphor of falling “snow” contributes layer upon layer of meaning. The “downy flake” transcends its literal sense, becoming a ‘blanket’ that both obscures and numbs the senses, hiding the dangers whilst tempting the traveller to stop. The coldness and darkness of the setting contrasts the purity of snow with the shadowy, even sinister idea that nature is enticing us with eternal rest. Frost’s allusions to the poem, ‘Keen fitful gusts’ with the line “and miles to
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