Robert Frost : a study of marriage in his life and in his poetry

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Schulhof, Saundra Alicia Lee
Sutton, William Alfred, 1915-
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This study provides a contribution to an understanding and an interpretation of Frost's poetry. It emphasizes the relationship between his life with his wife and their children and the thematic content in the poetry.At his mother's knee, Frost learned to look for the two-sidedness of every aspect of life. This dualism of nature and of human nature is the key to understanding his poetry. Humans must be ready both to build and to refuse to build walls, both literally and symbolically.The paper singles out and discusses the central themes in Frost's poetry: communication, escape-return, sexism, fear, and love. Other important themes discussed include: farming, fulfilling household responsibilities, and facing tragedy, death, and old age.Structurally, Frost expressed these themes most often through the use of physical barriers, barriers which were nearly always symbolic of emotional conflicts. It is oftena lack of communication which results in a fear of separation or isolation, and fear is contrasted with security: love and togetherness. The woods and darkness are symbolic of a fear of the unknown, as are the repeated appearances of strangers, tramps, and intruders so frequent in the poems.There are descriptions of actual places and events in Frost's life which inspired many of the poems. The paper points out many of the actual landmarks, e.g., the stone wall which divided the fir trees from the apple orchard, the birch trees, the brooks, paths, woods, and even the red sleigh, each of which were to receive such a prominent place in world literature.The study presents an analysis of Frost's poetic style: his use of balance, contrast of light and dark imagery, and the clashing of antithetical elements which resounds throughout his poetry.It also deals with the less-publicized side of Frost's life, the "darker side," which includes his contemplation of suicide, his threats to members of his own family (sometimes with revolver in hand), and the numeroustragedies in his personal life, including the suicide of his son, Carol.The study includes a treatment of such delicate subjects as Frost's habit of sleeping in his mother's room throughout highschool (for fear of the dark) and his relationship with his secretary-companion, Kathleen Morrison, following his wife's death.The poems are divided into those reflecting Frost's childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The latter category is the most significant and is comprised of poems reflecting Robert's courtship of his wife (poems of rejection and reconciliation), their marriage, and his life following her death.The overall significance of this study is in that it establishes the important influence Frost's marriage had upon his poetry. In spite of conflict and tensions, the marriage of Robert and Elinor Frost was one that "...rested on a true and deep bond, one that made the poetry possible. Elinor...provided judgment, encouragement, and the necessary faith" to enable Robert to be the creative artist that he was. If it were not for his responsibilities to his family, he might never have overcome his fear of speaking before large groups or have become as endeared to the American public.