Can someone grade this answer? (AQA English Lit B as level)Watch
“How does Frost tell the story in Standing by the woods on a snowy evening?”
“Standing by the woods on a snowy evening” is a “dark” story about suicide and the thoughts of it. Frost chooses to convey this through extended metaphors, tone and poetic structure. However, at certain stages of the poem we get undertones of life but Frost instantly contrasts this with death and always makes death the main theme and message of the story.
Frost instantly creates the tone of the story through the title, even giving subtle hints at the speakers feelings. When reading the title, a reader would naturally feel a calming tone through the use of assonance sounds such as “a” and “o”. The reader may even feel it’s the sort of title that would be used to name a beautiful piece of art work. However, Frost juxtaposes this tranquil tone by creating a gerund through “ing” sounds which convey a sense of motion and that the reader is just about to begin a journey. This contrast of sounds tells the reader that this story is not going to be a straightforward one, as we get an idea of instability. The “ing” sounds are quite harsh and abrupt suggesting although he may be “standing by the woods” which doesn’t seem like an overly alarming occurrence, the speaker is far from feeling calm, and he is not by the woods just to “watch the snow fall” but here for a painful reason. The fact that there is a mixture of soft and harsh sounds foreshadows that through the story told in the poem there will be times where the speaker feels at ease, maybe thinking of past memories, but ultimately this calmness will not last. This is reinforced by the gerund being placed at the beginning and end of this title; this almost tells the reader that unlike normal stories a sense of resolution will not be reached.
Furthermore, the poem is told in first person indicated by the use of pronouns such as “I” and “my.” In nearly every stanza there is use of pronouns, this gives the idea that the speaker feels completely lone and whatever he decides now is down to him. In addition to this, despite other people being mentioned such as the “little horse” and “He” referring to God we notice that the speaker doesn’t say the name of his “little horse” and even restrains from saying “God” reinforcing the idea that he feels that no one is around him now and there is no one he can turn to. The repetition of these pronouns could also create a climax for the reader, as it could suggest that he is trying to almost savour the moments of himself and being him, knowing that soon a decision to possibly end his life is approaching. Furthermore, the fact that Frost decided to tell a story which touches upon morbid issues such as death in first person, instead telling it in third person suggests that suicide and the thought process of people who consider suicide is not something someone else can just describe, it both complex and personal. This personal touch makes the reader sympathise to the speaker even more, and even Frost as a writer, knowing he has also been through many loses and this can be a reference to that.
The setting of the “snowy woods” is use as an extended metaphor of death. Right from the beginning of the story we realise from the preposition “by” that the speaker is not actually in the woods, and we see he is between woods (death) and the “village.” The “village” represents life as when we think of a “village” we think of people, cottages and a sense of belonging. This setting could be representative of the speaker’s mind set, inducing the idea that he is in a dilemma; he’s having warm and happy thoughts but then he is getting the dark thoughts of death. However, Frost using the “snowy woods” as the main setting of the story suggests that the main theme of this story is centred around death, and that conveys the idea that death is the main thing on the speakers mind and feels that life doesn’t make sense to him anymore and that it’s his time. Furthermore, despite the woods clearly being a representation of death, Frost still describes the woods as “lovely, dark and deep.” We see Frost place the adjective “lovely” which gives a positive view of the woods, with more morbid adjectives. This evokes the idea that the speaker sees darkness being “lovely” almost like he’s had enough of light and life and feels that death is the answer to all his problems. This could be representative of Frost’s life, as he went through so much loses in his life like losing his mother and father at a young age. Therefore, for Frost when thinking of death it’s almost “lovely” as its associated with loved ones but “deep” because it has had a “deep” and significant impact on his life.
Frost chose to construct the poem in a very simple structure. This is seen through the Rubiyat Stanza consisting of four lines within each of the four stanzas. As well as this only 20 words in this poem has more than one syllable, with a consistent AABA rhyme scheme. So we see this poem as a very simplistic one. Many readers may find this quite ambiguous considering the themes and meaning of this poem being about death, however, it could suggest that the reader feels that the only simple way to end all problems is death. In addition to this, the fact that the poem is so simple makes it accessible to all walks of life, this could suggest that death is something everyone no matter who you are will be something we will all face and experience the effects of.
So overall, Frost tells the story mainly in an ominous, morbid way using tone, language and poetic structure. Although we do see some elements of life through the use of metaphors, these are still used to contrast death and make the reader realise life is only temporary.