In Frost's "Fire and Ice," how will the world end twice?

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The world won't end twice, but according to the poem, it could end in one of two ways. Either it will end in fire or in ice. Whichever way it ends is ultimately of no importance; what matters is that we, the human race, make sure it doesn't happen.

Fire and ice can be seen as symbols of, respectively, passion and cold indifference. Either attitude could eventually be responsible for the end of the world. In fact, both of them could easily operate in tandem to bring about the world's end.

Although Frost wrote the poem long before the health of the environment became a major item on the international political agenda, one could argue that his warning of the dangers of fire and ice are especially relevant to the contemporary world, where man's wanton destruction of the environment reaches ever greater heights.

On the one hand, such ecological vandalism is a product of "fire," that is to say the passion that human beings have for controlling nature to serve their own ends. On the other hand, it is also a product of "ice," of cold indifference towards the environmental destruction which exists all around us but which we too often choose to ignore. Either way, the end result is the same.

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Frost notes that there are two ways people believe the world will end: either by burning up ("in fire") or by freezing ("in ice"). He equates fire with human desire (presumably negative desires gone out of control) and ice with human hate. While he states he is on the side of fire as what will destroy the earth, he also thinks human hate could just as easily do the job.

It is interesting that Frost published the poem in 1920—before the time of nuclear weapons, which many people understand as the "fire" that could consume the earth. However, the Bible also foretells that the earth will be destroyed by fire because God made a covenant that he would no longer use water (a flood) to wipe out humankind, as he did in the time of Noah.

What is most interesting, however, is that Frost takes the destruction of the earth out of the hands of God and puts that power into human hands, particularly into the power of human emotions. Writing in the aftermath of World War I, a war that stunned people with its ferocity, his poem warns that we humans need to get our emotions under control if the human race is going to survive. That sentiment seems just as important now, a century later, as it did in 1920.

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The metaphors of fire and ice are significant in conveying Frost's message in this poem. The speaker speculates that humans will destroy the world in one of two ways: angry, passionate desire (the fire metaphor) or a bitter, cold hatred (the ice metaphor).

Fire makes me think of the idiom "hotheaded." It carries the sense of making impulsive, angry decisions without true consideration of other points of view or to the effects such fiery decisions could create. The speaker uses ice to convey an opposite emotional reaction: cold, indifferent hatred. They shut people out, shut people down, and even use cold and calculating methods to eliminate people from the planet, seemingly detached from any sense of emotion at all.

Looking at the two extremes, the speaker is willing to bet that fiery anger will ultimately result in the end of mankind:

From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
He's pretty confident in this decision but says that "if it had to perish twice"—meaning that if it were possible for the world to end again—a cold and calculating hatred is more than capable of snuffing out humanity as well.
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In Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice," he claims that the world may end at the end of time in either fire and ice as the title suggests. This literally refers to the scientific theories about whether the earth will come to an end through fire, like fire at its core or through ice. Metaphorically, however, the fire is supposed to represent strong desire or passion. He says that he would rather die from excess passion - this is supposed to have positive connotations. However, he notes, that if he had to die twice, he would die through ice. Ice here represents hatred or coldness of heart. Too much passion can be destructive to a relationship but coldness, hatred can also destroy just as easily. Frost argues that he would rather the fire than the ice. 

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In Frost's "Fire and Ice" the world may possibly meet its end in two distinct ways. The first may be with fire; humankind's fiery passions, based on beliefs and ideologies, may be the cause of conflict that brings the world to an end. The world may end, not because of indifference, but to the contrary, because of strong feelings about long-held beliefs that different individuals or groups of individuals seek to defend. Fiery, narrow-minded passion, without reasoned discourse, may be the downfall of the human race.

The second distinct way the world may end is with ice. Frost alludes to ice being akin to hate. It is cold-hearted thinking that is selfish and doesn't take into account the Golden Rule - treating others as you would like to be treated.

Frost reveals that he has encountered, dealt with, and maybe even exhibited hate in his life:

"I think I know enough of hate"

Ice cold hatred is love for others 'waxing cold'. It is the opposite of fiery passion but produces the same destructive result for humankind.

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