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“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” best demonstrates Frost’s capacity of making images and giving them symbolic dimension. All the symbols used in this poem are very simple images taken from rural life. The horse, the woods, the darkness, the freezing coldness, the promises, the distance (miles) and sleep are all very known images used here as symbols. 

The poem deals with the conflicting feelings inherent in every human heart. Frost selects an idyllic setting and chooses those images which can suggest his intended meanings well. The speaker riding a horse to a definite destination stops near a forest. He feels like staying there though there is no safe shelter nearby. He is sure that if he stays there the owner of the forest will not know it because he lives in a far off village. Here the speaker alienates himself from the owner, in fact from the human beings. Thus the owner becomes a symbol of all human beings. Similarly, the little horse that shakes his bells to remind whether it is wrong to stop in a solitary place in a freezing cold night is another Symbol. It stands for the matter-of-fact common sense closely related to animality. The speaker ignores the reminder of the horse. This symbolizes another alienation of the speaker; this time he alienates himself from all living beings. The darkest evening and the freezing Coldness symbolize death. 

Likewise, the speaker’s momentary attraction for the solitude of the forest symbolizes his death wish. But he remembers his promises that he has to keep. He draws back from the attraction of the woods. His promises stand for the responsibilities of q meaningful life. He is obliged to travel a long distance of several miles before he sleeps. The ‘miles’ stand for a long time of performing duties and the ‘sleep’ stands for the final sleep the death. 

The symbols in this poem are primarily images. They are unique in character. All of them are rooted in a simple rural setting. But in Frost’s poetic craftsmanship they assume serious meanings. The universal enigmatic question, “To be, or not to be” has been presented through a set of symbols. However, unlike Shakespeare, Frost suggests a resolution through a similar set of symbols that the journey of life should march on ignoring all the temptations and hazards. 


Euslot said...

Thank you for your informative and well-crafted post. It made a difference!

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