Essay The Hypnotic Effect of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Essay The Hypnotic Effect of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

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The use of death as a theme is common practice in poetry, but the ways in which it is employed can be very diverse in meaning. An effective poem can send a message about death that is easily absorbed and refrains from forcing that message upon the reader. That kind of poem is written with the intent of conveying its meaning to a reader without that person realizing it, and only after having taken time to process the poem will understanding follow. Robert Frost was able to write in this way. In the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, Robert Frost portrays death as a material entity. Death takes on the physical form of the woods, and the man who has stopped in front of them is experiencing his own spiritual connection with it. Looking at death in this way is what gives the poem the power to get its point across, which is that all people must confront death in their own way.
To obtain the spiritual connection with the woods, the speaker must allow his mind to work independently of his body. Dichotomy of body and soul is the key idea that brings about the connection. Frost first separates the speaker from the population in the first stanza:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow. (1-4)
The speaker knows that the woods are owned by a person in the village, and that neither the owner nor any other person will bear witness to his moment with the woods. Concerning this first step of the speaker’s journey toward a split between mind and body Richard Gray states:
Clearing and wilderness, law and freedom, civilization and nature, fact and dream: these oppositions reverberate throughout American writing. And they a...


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...t pulls its readers into a hypnotic state identical to that which the speaker in the poem experiences. After the reader is caught, he or she themselves are welcome to make the same choice as the speaker. The choice is between accepting the reality of death and moving on with life, or becoming defeated by death and kept from living life in the best way one can.



Works Cited

Brower, Reuben A.. The Poetry of Robert Frost: Constellations of Intention. New York:
Oxford UP, 1963.
Frost, Robert. “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening –Wikisource.” Wikipedia.
8 Mar. 2005. 17 May 2006 http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Stopping_by_Woods_on_a_Snowy_Evening.
Gray, Richard. American Poetry of the Twentieth Century. : Longman Group UK Limited, 1990.
Stevens, Clint. Modern American Poetry. -1 2002. . 4 Apr. 2006. .

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