Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Questions and Answers
by Robert Frost

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening book cover
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What is the tone of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"? Explain. 

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a poem by Robert Frost consisting of four quatrains. It is told from the point of view of a nameless first-person narrator who is riding his horse along a trail through the New England forest on the longest night of the year, i.e. the winter solstice. 

The narrator thinks that he knows the owner of the woodland surrounding the trail but is not absolutely sure, as no houses are visible from where he is currently riding. The reason he is thinking about this is that he is somewhat concerned about trespassing, although as the owner lives in the village he won't see the narrator out in the woods. Thus the first sense we get of tone is that the narrator is concerned with politeness and also a certain scrupulousness.

Next, the narrator thinks his horse may be confused by his stopping with "no farmhouse near" because that is not something the narrator normally does. This emphasizes that the tone of the narrator is polite and considerate, and also slightly tentative.

The bleak landscape and time of year add a melancholic aspect to the tone, further emphasized by the narrator's desire to stop for some reason not specified in the snow on a deserted road. The sense of the beauty of the woods and the narrator's having things to do which prevent him from staying, and the mention of "miles to go before I sleep" add a melancholic flavor to the tone.


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prof-medusa | Student

I think that this question has a few answers (it's subjective, so what you think can probably be proven correct through analyzing the text!).

One way to look at this poem is to say that it has a dark and dreary tone. The poem uses dark imagery coupled with a rhyming meter to create an eerie tone. First we will discuss the imagery. Frost makes a point to state that he is on his horse in the woods, while it's snowing (!!!), on the darkest night of the year (eek!). Sounds dangerous and kind of scary! To take it further, Frost states that the woods are "lovely, dark and deep." To state that being in the woods while it's snowing in the dark is lovely is kind of crazy. A normal response would be to say that it is scary or bleak.

The poem's rhyming meter is Shakespeare'e favorite: iambic pentameter. As iambic pentameter is considered regular meter of stressed and unstressed syllables, it allows the poem to be read quickly and almost like a song. Let's take a step back for a second: Frost wrote a dark, dreary poem where he calls a dangerous situation in the woods "lovely" and it is written in a sing-song tone. If we take these clues, we could postulate that this poem is about suicide or, more generally, just about death.

Again, this is just one way to analyze this poem. The tone could also be perceived as bucolic (celebrating the countryside), solitary (just a dude and his horse!), or any other word that you can think of to describe how the images presented in this poem help get the message of the poem across.