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What is the central theme of the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" written by...

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maximushka | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 22, 2009 at 5:48 AM via web

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

I would like to know the central theme, Setting, interpretation, symbolism, biographical and historical context of the poem.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 22, 2009 at 6:40 AM (Answer #1)

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Central theme: Attraction versus fixation. Something draws you to lose focus, but you cannot get fixated. You must get moving. Sorta like doing homework, vs. checking your email. The email would be "the woods".

Setting: "Winter time, in the woods that belong to someone who is "near"

Intepretation: The simple nature of the poem makes it open to plenty of interpretation. Why is he stopping? Why must he go? It is suggested that it is a man's own journey, stopped by an event that might slow him down in the path of getting to know himself, or accomplishing a goal. Its open to a LOT of interpretation because it is SO simple.

Symbolism: "The woods" are all attractions that dive u in. You could think it's a bad attraction, as the woods belong to someone else (jealousy? lusting after someone else's partner? envy? or just plain "getting off track?). The frost instills a feeling of nostalia immediately, and draws the reader to want to get cozy and warm up. The Winter is always a good topic for emotions.

The horse is the strong carrier of you (your soul? your determination? your best friend?), and he asks the owner with a shake of the bell, basically, 'why are we stopping HERE' "without a farmhouse near"? In other words, it is the voice of those entities (soul, determination, friend, or other) asking you: "Why are you stopping now?"

The miles to go before you sleep suggest death as in "We got ways to go, and can't stop now"

Biographical: According to Frost, this poem was written spontanelously. He (contrary to the likes of John Donne) was NOT about to die, or going through a phase. It just came to him because he is a fantastic poet. Now, keep in mind: Frost was sort of a "celebrity" poet a la Maya Angelou. He was great, but he was also UBER famous. So, this poem carries with it the author's popularity, yet, it is also a precious work of descriptive and emotional nature.

Historical: We are not quite sure what setting is of this story. Yet, you can safely say that it does not matter. It is Universal, it could happen anywhere and at any time. You can place a time and moment in history at random, and the poem would fit in perfectly. That is what makes it truly great.

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