How does Rossetti use a question-and-response format in "Uphill"?

Rossetti uses a very regular and comforting question-and-response format in "Uphill" to reassure readers that safety and security will greet them in the afterlife.

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In this poem, a traveler, filled with fear about a journey, asks a series of worried questions. Each time, the questioner is answered by a comforting, more knowledgeable soul, who reassures this individual that all will be well.

The format Rossetti uses is a question-and-answer exchange. The first and third...

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In this poem, a traveler, filled with fear about a journey, asks a series of worried questions. Each time, the questioner is answered by a comforting, more knowledgeable soul, who reassures this individual that all will be well.

The format Rossetti uses is a question-and-answer exchange. The first and third lines in each quatrain (four-line stanza) are questions, and the second and fourth lines are answers. This steady and predictable back-and-forth is reassuring, underscoring the way the responder's answers are also reassuring.

The traveler's questions show her anxiety, such as in the way she drags out the question about whether the road will be uphill "all" the way or whether the journey will take the "whole long day?" In contrast, the responder's answers are short and crisp. They then move to comforting. They reassure the traveler that she will, for example, not be kept "standing at that door" to the inn she is headed for, and she is told there will definitely be a "bed" for her.

The repetition and regularity of the question-and-answer format builds a sense of security in the reader. This is important in a poem that is usually interpreted as about our journey through life on earth, with the responder offering the reassurance that at death we will come to a warm and welcoming place.

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