Essay about Interpretations of Robert Frost's Poem, Design

Essay about Interpretations of Robert Frost's Poem, Design

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Interpretations of Robert Frost's Poem, "Design"


The poem "Design" explores whether the events in nature are simply random occurrences or part of a larger plan by God, and if there's a force that dominates and controls our very existence. On that point both Jere K Huzzard and Everett Carter aggress on. They differ in their interpretations of the poem's ending and what they think Frost wanted to convey with his vague ending. Both agree that the last line of the poem was written in an undefined way with purpose on Frost's side. But each critic poses his own ideas regarding what is the meaning of that line. While Carter examines the whole poem in order to answer this question, Huzzard chose to focus only on the last two lines.

The heart of Frost's poem is a picture, which is described in the octave. We are introduced to three creatures the narrator happened to come across: "a dimpled spider, fat and white" (line 1), a white flower, and, held up by the spider, a white moth. Each creature is introduced separately, but all three are later on mixed together in the speaker's eyes, to demonstrate the rarity of their assembly. Carter refers to this description as ironic, ironies that nature presents to man. He sees the irony in the fact that the three creatures are described in a way that one wouldn't depict them normally, and their association with innocence. The spider is dimpled and fat, implying the sweet innocence of a young child, and it's unusually white. The flower is a heal-all, chosen specifically and ironically to invoke images of healing, of medicine. In the poem, however, the heal-all is responsible, in a way, to the moth's death. And like the spider, the usually blue or purple flower is white. The unusual whiteness i...


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...ith no design at all?" as for the third option, the last two lines could have been reversed, and the question that raises from the line "what but design of darkness to appall?" (line 13) would have read as a fact - "design of darkness to appall (!)." But since Frost hasn't done any of those since he is knows for his "deliberate ambiguity", Huzzard claims that the poem wasn't meant to be resolved in an explicit way.

For conclusion, both Carter and Huzzard agree that the poem wan not meant to end in an explicit way. They both understand Frost's reason to end the poem with an open line, a line that can't be read in one specific way. However, while Huzzard sees three different yet coexisting possibilities in the last line, Carter thinks that Frost meant to imply that one shouldn't read to much into small events in nature, such as the scene described in the poem.

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