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Fire and Ice

Educational resource for teaching 'Fire and Ice' by Robert Frost
by

Georgia Karamanos

on 18 September 2012

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Transcript of Fire and Ice

Robert Frost On the surface the poem Fire and Ice is referring to the scientific discussion of how the world will end. Fire and Ice was partly inspired by a passage in Canto 32 of Dante's Inferno, in which the worst offenders of hell are submerged, while in a fiery hell, up to their necks in ice. It has also been suggested that another possible source of inspiration for Fire and Ice was the leading astronomer of the day, Harlow Shapely. When Robert Frost asked Harlow Shapely how the world would end Shapely supposedly told Frost that the sun would either explode and incinerate the Earth, or the Earth would escape the sun's gravitational pull and freeze. Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favour fire.
But if it had to perish twice.
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice. Literal Interpretation: Paraphrase Some people say that the world will end in fire, others say that it will end in ice. From my personal experiences with desire I'm going to agree with those who say fire. But if the world was going to end twice, I know enough of hate to know that ice is destructive and would work just as well. Frost uses multiple metaphors in Fire and Ice.
Frost compares fire to desire and ice to hate.
Frost uses the destruction of the world as a metaphor for the end of relationships.
By characterizing fire and ice in terms of human emotions (desire and hate) Frost is able to both discuss and acknowledge the destructive nature of human nature. Figurative Language Some say the world will end in fire . Some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favour fire. But if it had to perish twice I think I know enough of hate to say that, for destruction, ice is also great and would suffice. The format of the poem also has a substantial effect on the poem. In prose lines Fire and Ice sounds like this: This format simply destroys the impact of how you feel about the poem. Frost masterfully organized the lines for the perfect effect. The tone of the poem is ambiguous. Frost never clearly states if the world will end in fire or ice, but meanders between the two, never fully answering the question. Themes The major theme of the poem is that of fire and ice. Frost characterizes them as being destructive. This destruction is premised with the understanding that, in this case, the forces of fire and ice are being used as metaphors for two opposing human emotions: desire and hate. Thus we can surmise that Frost isn't simply talking about the end of the world; he has also included a figurative meaning within the poem - one that is based upon human nature and understands that we, as people, are ruled by our emotions and if we don't keep them in check and allow them to run rampage it will surely end in destruction. Fire and Ice relates to life in many ways. Take a moment and think about the times desire and hate have entered your mind. Frost describes them not only as being equal but also as having the force of Nature behind them. ambiguous: open to more than one interpretation; having a double meaning
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