Skip to content

Essay On In White By Robert Frost

Robert Frost's Design Essay

Robert Frost's Design

Robert Frost's "Design" is a meditation on human attempts to see order in the universe--and human failures at perceiving the order that is actually present in nature. The speaker of the poem perceives what he takes to be a significant coincidence, then speculates on what the coincidence might mean, or whether it means anything at all. However, he fails to see that there is a very good reason for the coincidence he spots, and the "design" of nature that it implies is quite different from anything he suggests.

Design
by Robert Frost

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.

The starting point for the speaker's thinking is what he perceives to be a coincidence: a white spider sits on a white flower holding up a white moth. The coincidence is even more striking because heal-alls are usually blue.

In Western culture, the color white usually symbolizes goodness, purity, and innocence. The language of the poem suggests these connotative links: the spider is "dimpled" as well as "fat and white," like a newborn baby. The moth's wings are like a "white piece of rigid satin cloth," like a bridal dress (or perhaps the lining of a coffin; already the speaker seems to be looking for the "darker" underside of the color white). The name "heal-all," too, suggests health, or perhaps the wisdom and benificence of a healer.

By the end of the octet, the contrast between the positive connotations of the color white and the apparent gruesomeness of the scene before the speaker is made explicit. On the one hand, the scene is one of "death and blight," mixed like a "witch's broth" and including "dead wings." On the other hand, the spider is like a "snow-drop," suggesting purity, and the moth's wings are like a "paper kite," suggesting innocence.

In the sestet, the speaker wonders how this coincidence of a white spider and white moth on a white flower came to be, especially given the ironic tension between the positive connotations of the color symbolism and the negative connotations of the spider's killing of the moth. The speaker seems to absolve any of the three of any blame,...

Loading: Checking Spelling

0%

Read more

The Biography of Robert Frost Essay

1801 words - 7 pages Robert Lee Frost was much admired for his description of rural life in New England, his command of American informal speech, and his realistic poetry portraying ordinary people in everyday situations.He was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California anddied on January 29, 1963 in Boston, Massachusetts.Frost's father, William Prescott Frost,...

Apathy to Human Suffering Essay

1324 words - 5 pages The suffering of the world is often captivated in the work of the great poets like Robert Frost and W. H Auden. The similarities between Frost's "Design" and Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts" include the belief that the world may be blind to human suffering and to that that causes the suffering. Apathy by the part of the human being is explained either by sheer ignorance of a greater power or by lack of time to consider the existence of such a...

Robert Frost’s, “Design”

1056 words - 4 pages Robert Frost’s “Design” is a poem of finding natural cruelty in the serenity of nature, a melody of understanding. Upon reading the first line, not unlike the whole poem, a joke in tone, rhythm is building up an image that grows into something else. In “Design”, the joking discovery progresses gradually through a sequence of conflicting images. . Frost uses imagery, allegory, and characterization to accomplish what could only be described as an...

Poetry Analysis: "Design" by Robert Frost

1259 words - 5 pages English 102: Introduction to Literature (University of Maine at Augusta, USA)Instructions from professor: Write an essay (at least 3 pages) - Analyze one stanza of the poem, focusing on its meaning and on the way the details of the stanza contribute to its meaning. Discuss what this stanza contributes to the poem as a whole.==========Body of...

Modernism, Modernists in American Literature, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, and T.S Eliot.

1313 words - 5 pages Untill Modernism it is possible to see the American authors write about different themes, they wrote about dreams, fantasy, gothic, nature, friendship. Till early of 20th century Americans have no real problems even a culture. Between 1860-1900 the immigration started, American government sent some agents to Europe and these agents persuaded people immigration to America. America want these people because they want to better economy in 1920...

Nature in Robert Frost's Poems

1607 words - 6 pages Under the stars of the sky, fifteen-year old Robert Frost explored the heavens through a telescope. He was seeking affirmation of the proverbial question that has plagued mankind for centuries—the proof and existence of God. While surveying the cosmos, Frost‘s interest was stirred, so he visited a library and obtained books that had illustrated star charts. Within these pages, his knowledge of the stars was edified and a poet was...

How Doubt Influences Are Faith

1629 words - 7 pages Topic: How doubt influences are faith Doubt is a necessary journey that everyone must take at some point if they expect to grow as a person but it is definitely an addictive thing. Once a skepticism is cultivated, it most assuredly will never leave. I think what frightens people about doubt is that it makes no guarantees of happiness. In fact, it almost always guarantees the opposite, at least for a time. When doubt is introduced in faith the...

Desolation and Loneliness in Robert Frost's The Wood Pile

1961 words - 8 pages "The Wood-Pile" is like a sequel to "Home Burial," with the man in this instance wandering from a "home" that seems little more than an abstraction to him and to us. More a meditation than a dramatic narrative, it offers the soliloquy of a lone figure walking in a winter landscape. It is a desolate scene possessed of the loneliness of "Desert Places." Attention is focused on the activity of consciousness in this isolated wanderer, and nothing...

Interpretations of Robert Frost's Poem, Design Essay

1089 Words5 Pages

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…show more content…

This is supported in the poem by the description of the moth as a "rigid satin cloth." The satin cloth can be seen like a bridal dress, suggestions of good, but the negativity of "rigid" implies perhaps on the lining of a coffin where a rigid body would lie. In the second part of the octave the speaker describes the scene again. He compares the scene and the assorted characters to "a witch's broth" (line 6), and Carter claims that this part introduces ironies regarding the observer's feelings towards the scene he saw. The speaker views those characters as "assorted characters of death and blight" (line 4). But they are there to "begin the morning right" (line 5) - a positive saying which you wouldn't exact to hear associated with death and blight. This juxtaposing of "blight" and "right" emphasizes the irony. How can the morning be "right" if the scene culminate in death?

In the sestet, we are presented with three questions regarding the scene in the octave. According to Carter, a simple reading of the poem would lead the reader to think that the fourth question that rises is also the answer to the first three, the answer being that "nature is a design of evil." But he thinks of this questions as foolish, and again, ironic. How can a flower choose its own color? Is there really a guiding hand that directed the spider to that place only to build

Show More