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Robert Frost's Use of Literary Devices in Fire and Ice

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How do you picture the end of the world?! A daunting question that could be answered with numerous outcomes. American poet, Robert Frost in his work has provided his own perspective to answer such a question. Born on the 26th day of March in the year 1874, Robert Frost wrote Fire and Ice in the year 1920. It did not get published till 3 years later in 1923. That means the poem was written when Robert Frost was 46 and it did not get published until he was 49 years of age. The poem is written in a casual tone that is easy to read and understand. This writing was also inspired by a passage in Canto 32 of Dante’s Inferno. The central idea of this poem focuses around the hypothetical end of the world, with the speaker asserting that it will be destroyed either by fire or by ice. By analyzing the poem, “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost and his uses of alliteration, rhetoric, and imagery, one can develop their own interpretations as to how the world could end.

For instance, we can focus Frost’s use of the literary device, alliteration. Alliteration is a literary device that repeats a speech sound in a sequence of words that are close to each other. Alliteration typically uses consonant sounds at the beginning of a word to give stress to its syllable. For example, lines 1 and 2: These two lines have a parallel structure, beginning with ‘Some say.’ This phrase is an example of alliteration. Fire and ice, as mentioned, are symbols. Specifically, they represent emotions like ‘desire’ and ‘hate.’ However, there’s no reason to think that these are all that fire and ice represent. Desire and hate are merely examples that fall in a broader category. Furthermore, in line 4 Frost uses the words, ‘favor fire,’ another example of alliteration. Both words begin with the same letter and add to Frost’s use of this literary device.

In addition, another device Frost uses well is rhetoric work. Rhetoric is the art of using language to persuade, motivate, or inform an audience via writing or speech. Rhetoric in the poem is used to convey the meaning of the poem. The first two lines of the poem serve as examples of this. Frost uses the phrases, ‘Some say the world will end in ‘fire’, and ‘Some say in ice.’ It is not clear whom the lines refer to by the words ‘some’. By using the term “some” this can draw the reader to the rhetorical aspect of the poem itself. It is not definite which persons are being referred to either. In continuation, the third, fourth and sixth lines of the poem reveal the personal opinions or views of the writer about the subject in question. The first-person speaker is being revealed as he is keen to let the reader in on his thoughts.

Moreover, a final technique utilized by Frost was imagery. Imagery means to use figurative language to represent objects, actions, and ideas in such a way that it appeals to our physical senses. Usually it is thought that imagery makes use of particular words that create visual representation of ideas in our minds. “fire” and “ice” in this context have been used as imagery. Imagery is used to appeal to our senses as it is based on actual things. Frost uses these symbols of imagery to imply that fire stands for desire or passion and ice for hate or reason, and they are the two probable ways that will cause the end of the world individually or working together.

Overall, through the uses of alliteration, rhetoric, and imagery, Robert Frost has been able to show us how the world will end consequently because of varying reasonings or thoughts. One can gain insight into the man simply by reading this poem alone. Frost skillfully explained his complex thoughts in such a casual and simple manner. Such mannerisms made it obvious how easy it was for Robert Frost to pen out his creativity into words that stay locked inside your head. The age-old question of whether the world will end in fire or in ice is brought before us. In similarity, to another age-old question: whether it would be preferable to freeze to death or burn to death. The speaker determines that either option would achieve its purpose sufficiently well. Ultimately, we are the only ones who can choose our own fate and how our actions will affect that outcome.   

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Robert Frost’s Use Of Literary Devices In Fire And Ice. (2021, October 25). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from
“Robert Frost’s Use Of Literary Devices In Fire And Ice.” GradesFixer, 25 Oct. 2021,
Robert Frost’s Use Of Literary Devices In Fire And Ice. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2022].
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