Critical Analysis of “Fire and Ice”

Posted: September 4th, 2013





Critical Analysis of “Fire and Ice”

The narrative by Robert Frost Fire and Ice is powerful in illustrating two forces, which are strong in the world and the human mind. Fire and Ice are two elements in the world that are important but entirely different from each other in their own unique aspects. The fire is hot, and the ice is chilling cold, the two might be used to represent various aspects in society such as the presence of love and hate. When fire meets ice it has no chance of continuity as it is extinguished by the ice. However, the ice in the presence of adequate fire has no chance of existence as it melts. The words and the meaning brought about by the poem can be interpreted to mean that the two elements fire and ice representing love and hate respectively are diverse in the own way and strong in different aspects, however if one proves to be in plenty than the other the latter has no chance for survival. Thus, love in the presence of a lot of hate has little chance of survival as it is poisoned by the hate. In contrast, the presence of more love than hate means that the love has the ability to overpower the hate (Hansen, 29).

The theme of punishment could best described as dominant in the poem because the author brings out his points using the two elements to express the imminent punishment waiting people when the world will end. This is illustrated in the opening line of the poem “Some say the world will end in fire / some say in ice… To say that for destruction ice/Is also great / and would suffice” the punishment awaiting people at the world is great like fire and chilling as ice as illustrated by the given words.

The poem consists of two stresses or iambic diameter. This is illustrated as in the lines throughout the poem such as “Some say the world will end in fire, / some say in ice.” (Hansen, 31). The author has also mastered the art of rhyming as he brings his theme in rhyming schemes in the poem. His rhyming scheme could be best described as terza rima (Hansen, 33). Terza rima is illustrated by the presence of interlocking chain rhyme in the poem. This is illustrated by the following stanzas in the poem

“Some say the world will end in fire, (a)

Some say in ice. (b)

From what I’ve tasted of desire,

I hold with those who favor fire. (a)

But if it had to perish twice, (b)

I think I know enough of hate (c)

To say that for destruction ice(b) (Serio, 9).

Terza rima consists of interlocking chains of rhymes in a sentence in the form of a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c. This is clearly indicated in the words highlighted in bold, whereby the rhyme changes in each sentence.

The plot of the poem from a formalist approach is to enlighten people on the consequences of their sins and the chilling punishment as represented by ice. The author has witnessed the effects of fire or love when he states, “From what I have tasted of desire/ I hold with those who favor fire” (Serio, 39). He seems to consider sins of passion as lesser evils because he finds that love is stronger and important than hate. He automatically means that hate is cold and chilling because he has witnessed the chilling effects of the vice when he states “I think I know enough of hate / to say that for destruction ice / is also great / and would suffice” (Serio, 39). He has experienced the effects of hate such that he finds it fit for those who exercise the vice should attract chilling punishment because it resonates with the coldness of hate.

In addition, the poem employs a first person narrative such that the Frost is able to tell the audience of the effects of fire and ice or love and hate. This enables him to incorporate the views of others when he states “I hold with those who favor fire” meaning that he considers the views of others as critical to the formation of his opinion (Hansen, 24). In addition, this enables him to gain credibility in terms of his opinions and to develop a strong stance. In addition, he brings out the presence of conflicting views as to the punishment of sins and more so how the world will end. This is illustrated in the words “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice” (Hansen, 24). Some people believe that the appropriate punishments for sins of man are by fire and others believe that it is by ice.

Fire and ice might have been because of the knowledge in science which the author possessed hence he was bale to form an opinion as to the end of the world. it is a poem based on mere speculation as there neither is nor guarantee that the world will end by either fire or ice. This is illustrated by the words “Some say the world will end in fire / Some say in ice/ I hold with those who favor fireFrost gives his opinions meaning that his claims of the end of the world will be by either fire or ice are based on mere speculation form the knowledge of science. In addition, it seems that his knowledge as to the means that the world will end is influenced largely by other people’s opinions, which he seems to value a lot. Thus, no one knows with ample certainty the end of the world and the means by which the end will be achieved.

In conclusion the dominant point brought out by Frost is the presence of sever punishment for man’s inequities. The presence of fire and ice is sufficient because both elements are powerful in their own respect. Punishment for man is inevitable; it is only a matter of what kind of punishment man shall receive for his perversion of morals. Hence, from the poem, the audience is able to draw a conclusion that the end of the world is not known with certainty. His statements of the end of the world are based on hearsay from people, thus he as well as the audience are unable to draw a conclusive end of the world.

Work cited

Hansen, Tom. “Frost’s Fire and Ice” Explicator 59.1 (2000): MAS Ultra-School Edition. Web. 2 May 2012.

Serio, John R. “Frost’s Fire and Ice and Dante’s Inferno” Explicator 57.4 (1999): 218. MAS Ultra- School Edition. Web. 2 May 2012.

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