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Various emotions and/or beliefs about life seem to be implied or evoked by Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem “The Mill.” These include the following:
- Line 1 implies the emotions of patience but also of growing impatience.
- Line 2 implies a lack of vitality and comfort and may thus imply emotions of foreboding and of figurative darkness.
- Line 3 implies an emotion of uncertain hope.
- Line 4 implies emotions of recollection and remembrance.
- Line 5 implies the miller’s belief that no role really exists for him in modern society.
- Line 7 implies, perhaps, the miller’s indecision, uncertainty, and reluctance, and perhaps even his affection for his wife.
- Line 8 implies the wife’s sense of the slow passage of time.
- Line 9 clearly mentions the emotion of fear.
- Line 10 implies her arrival to the mill after a long walk and may therefore imply emotions of satisfaction and relief.
- Line 11 implies emotions of satisfaction, relief, and familiarity.
- Line 12 implies emotions of sensual satisfaction and of reassurance.
- Line 13 evokes feelings of uncertainty and mystery.
- Lines 15-16 evoke – in the wife and in us – feelings of subdued horror and regret, as she realizes that her husband has committed suicide
And what was hanging from a beam
Would not have heeded where she went.
- Line 17 implies feelings of fear and apprehension.
- Line 18 implies the emotion of trying to be rational in the face of fear.
- Lines 19-20 evoke in the poem’s readers feelings of apprehension and fear, as we begin to worry that she may imitate her husband’s actions.
- Lines 21-22 evoke feelings of admiration for the paradoxical beauty of the place.
- Lines 23-24 evoke feelings of dread in the reader, and perhaps also feelings of pity for the suffering of the wife.
The beliefs implied or evoked by this poem will depend very much upon the reader’s attitude toward suicide. Some readers may believe that it was sinful for the miller to take his own life, and they may also believe that it is sinful for his wife to contemplate a similar fate. Some readers may believe that suicide is an acceptable response to a life that no longer seem worth living. Some readers may believe that the wife reacts out of love when she contemplates taking her own life after her husband has taken his. Some readers may believe that her thinking along these lines is melodramatic, irresponsible, and irrational. Some readers may believe that the miller must have been in excruciating mental pain if he was willing to take his own life. Some readers, on the other hand, may believe that the miller showed very little love or concern for his wife by acting as he did. Some may believe he is a victim to be pitied; others may believe he is selfish and weak.
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