Comparing Fire and Ice, and The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

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Some people go through their lives without reflecting about how their decisions have shaped them as a person. The poems “Fire and Ice” and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost both use the importance of decision making and its effects on the way we live to highlight how our path through life is defined by our choices. At the same time, Frost uses the extreme opposites in “Fire and Ice” and the similarities of the choices in “The Road Not Taken” to explore human nature and permanence of decisions.

“Fire and Ice” is a poem that paints a bleak picture of the future in which there are two paths, fire and ice, that both lead to the end of the world. Frost uses language throughout the poem that appears to be simple, but is actually very effective at communicating deeper, insightful meanings. He connects fire and ice to desire and hate and creates multiple levels of complexity. For example, the simple passage “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice.” (“Fire and Ice” 1-2) introduces the two main symbols in the poem, but, at the same time, pulls the reader in because desire and hate are so personal and such a significant part of human nature. After the symbols are presented, the narrator involves himself or herself in the poem by saying “From what I’ve tasted of desire / I hold with those who favor fire.” (“Fire and Ice” 3-4). A clear decision is made here in favor of fire, implying that the narrator favors desire. Frost believes that the world will eventually be destroyed by destructive and negative human traits: desire, greed, and jealousy. Yet in Frost’s mind, these traits are still preferable to hate. This opinion is demonstrated by the narrator’s choice of fire. Frost prefers the heat of passion and fire to the ...

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...us hate through the symbols of fire and ice. The narrator chooses fire over ice because it’s the most relatable for them and is, in his or her mind, preferable to the hate and coldness of ice. The narrator in “The Road Not Taken” also makes a decision based on how the choices presented relate to them. They chose to be an individual and not to shape their life around someone else’s decision. “Fire and Ice” is, at a deeper level, also very different from “The Road Not Taken” because it presents two specific choices that both lead to the same end while “The Road Not Taken” opens up the possibility for endless paths and decisions with an unknown result. Regardless of where the poems guide the narrator, Frost makes it clear that our decisions affect who we are, but also opens up speculation about what it would be like had we taken different turns. It’s impossible to know.

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