illustration of a snowy forest with a cabin in the distance

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Characters

The main characters in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” are the speaker, the owner of the woods, and the horse.

  • The speaker is a man driving his carriage through the woods. Though he seems to have duties on the other end of his journey, he stops for a moment to appreciate the mysterious beauty of the silent and snowy woods.
  • The owner of the woods is not present in the poem, but the speaker refers to him in the first line.
  • The horse shakes his harness bells, as if to ask the speaker why they have stopped.

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

In this poem, there is one direct character and one character indirectly referred to by the speaker. The horse can function as a third character, since the speaker uses personification when speaking of him.

The Speaker

The speaker of the poem is a person with responsibilities who puts aside his duties for a short period of time to enjoy the natural beauty of the woods filling with snow. He is obviously enthralled by the lovely, dark, and deep woods and would like to remain longer in contemplation, but he must fulfill the promises that he has made to others—and to do so, he must resume his travels. The speaker gives us the perspective of an adult who would love to relax and enjoy nature but must cut this pleasure short due to his responsibilities in life.

The Owner of the Woods

The indirect character referred to by the narrator is the owner of the woods where the traveler lingers. The narrator thinks that he knows this person. He must be someone with considerable wealth since he has a house in the village and also owns this property full of woodlands. The narrator seems relieved that the property owner is in the village and will not notice that he pauses in his journey, which could constitute trespassing on the man's land.

The Horse

Personification is the practice of imparting human attributes to animals or objects. In this poem, the speaker personifies his horse by giving him human thoughts and ideas. For instance, the speaker remarks that his horse "must think it queer," or strange, that the speaker has paused in his usual routine to stop and admire the snowfall in the woods. He also interprets the shake of the harness bells as the horse asking the speaker whether he has made a mistake in stopping. It's likely that the speaker is projecting his own uncertainties upon the horse and his actions. The speaker is actually questioning himself and why he has stopped.

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