What contrasts are suggested between the speaker in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and his horse and the owner of the woods?

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bree1228 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," written by Robert Frost, describes the speaker's journey homeward on one of the darkest nights of the year.  It is cold and desolate, yet the speaker finds a sense of quiet solitude in the beauty of the snowy night. 

There are contrasts between the speaker's thoughts and actions and his horse. As the speaker stops momentarily to admire the woods in the night, the horse jingles the bells on his harness.  This contrast to the silence that the speaker is contemplating can represent worldly concerns that are interrupting his solitary reverie.  The horse represents the outside world, or the only noise in the softness of the falling snow. 

The owner of the woods has a home back in the village, where he and the rest of the community are during this quiet, snowy evening.  The dark, seemingly peaceful woods are not a popular place for everyone else in town.  They are concerned with staying warm and keeping close to home.  The contrast that the owner of the woods offers the reader is that he, like the speaker's horse, represents the outside world and responsibilities that await the speaker.  The speaker mentions the owner to offer a dichotomy to the silent beauty that he stops to appreciate. 

The speaker stops for a moment in time to take in the woods, the snow, and the stillness it offers, whereas the real world awaits his return.  The speaker has responsibilities to tend to.  The repetition of the last two lines confirm the contrast, as he affirms that there are still many miles to go before the speaker can rest.  Despite nature's beauty, the owner and the horse are reminders of those miles, both figurative and literal. 

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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