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What is central idea of "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost?

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diki | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 14, 2009 at 2:51 PM via web

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What is central idea of "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 14, 2009 at 11:11 PM (Answer #3)

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The two previous posts show how the interpretation of literature is fundamentally arbitrary.  There's no one right answer -- the first says it's about death, the second about accomplishing duties.

The eNotes discussion of themes of the poem argues that there are three main ones:

  • Beauty
  • Return to nature and how difficult it is to do this given the demands of everyday society.
  • Duty and responsibility

As a non-literature person, I have always been struck by the beauty of the imagery or maybe it's the rhythm of the poem.  But I've always thought it was a beautiful and soothing poem.

If I had to pick what I think is the central idea, I would agree that it's about the second bullet above.

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jseligmann | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted November 14, 2009 at 3:51 PM (Answer #1)

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It seems that the narrator is contemplating death on this "darkest night of the year." Not that he is thinking about ending his own life, but he feels the lure of death that will be there later for him. Death looks to him "lovely, dark, and deep." Not scary, not grim, but rather welcoming, almost a relief.

But it is not yet his time, for he has connections with other people, "promises to keep" and a long way to go before the end finally comes..."miles to go before I sleep." Yet, it feels like he is comforted by the thought of the end in the distance. One day, sure, but not right now.

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lit24 | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted November 14, 2009 at 9:56 PM (Answer #2)

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Robert Frosts's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (1923) which describes a  hauntingly pastoral scene of the barren "woods on a snowy evening" expresses the theme that one must concentrate on fulfilling  his promises and accomplishing his duties without being distracted by the pleasures of life.

The lyric describes a rider on a horse keen to reach home on a cold wintry night when he is captivated by the beautiful sight of snow falling on the barren woods nearby. The rider pauses to surreptitiously enjoy this enchanting sight and for a moment forgets that he has to reach home as quickly as possible. However, his "little horse" becomes restless and reminds him to continue his homeward journey. The rider at once continues his homeward journey reminding himself that although the sight of the snow 'filling' up the woods may be enticingly beautiful, that he has other more important tasks to accomplish and that he had better get home as quickly as possible.

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karan_bhatia | Student, Kindergarten | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:11 AM (Answer #5)

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   The poem “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening” has been written by Robert Frost. The main idea of the poem is that nature is vast and beautiful but man cannot leave his responsibilities and spend his life in looking at the natural beauty. The woods are beautiful but the poet can not stay there because he has to keep his promises. Thus life is s

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user4845094 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 13, 2013 at 1:30 AM (Answer #4)

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The poem is about seeing beauty on something. There are things in life that you would just stop by and appreciate beauty even on small things. That's what Frost want's us to realize. That it is necessary to stop on things that amazes us.

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