Fire and Ice Symbolism
In the poem “Fire and Ice”, Robert Frost attaches a deeper meaning to the words “fire” and “ice” through symbolism. The poem revolves around the question of how the world is going to end. The speaker throws around two possibilities of destruction: fire and ice.
The first lines: “Some say the world will end in fire/Some in Ice” (1-2). On a literal level, “the world” means the earth, it is not a metaphor for anything in a literal sense. Therefore the meaning of the earth will end is geological. The cause will be natural. Therefore when “fire” ends the world, it metaphorically represents the world overheating through global warming. When “ice” is the cause, it represents the world freezing over in an ice age. However, Robert Frost adds a twist to the scientific outlook by adding in informal personal pronouns and by giving examples of both fire and ice. He transforms the metaphors into symbolic language.
“the world” no longer means the planet Earth, instead it symbolizes Earth’s people.
Therefore, “the world will end” (1) translates humanity will end. The whole meaning of the poem changes because now the end involves human and human nature, it is no longer a natural occurrence. “Fire” is conflict people people. They become so passionate and driven by their beliefs that they find it difficult to agree. The passion oozes and explodes.
The speaker introduces the pretext on which he made his decision that the world will end in fire: “From what I’ve tasted of desire/I hold with those who favor fire” (2-3). Based on his experience of “desire”, the speaker feels fire is the more likely ending. Thus, the worlds “desire” and “fire” connect. Desire leads to fire. Desire fuels fire. Desire however is not the only factor that leads to fire, it is just an example. Fire represents conflict. Desire causes conflict because passionate people become so influenced by their beliefs that they cannot rationalize with others.
“Ice” is coldness and hatred.
“I think I know enough of hate,/To say that for destruction ice/Is also great/And would suffice.”
However, the poem holds an even deeper connation. Fire symbolizes passion and conflict wile ice represents hate and isolation.
The person pronouns and opinion woven into the poem imply it is a reflection. The speaker uses the words “some” and “those who” to describe the people divided on how the world is going to end. The choice of the general adjectives takes the attention away from them. Instead of focussing on the controversy in an openminded way, the reader shifts into the mindset of the speaker. He continues to funnel the readers into his outlook by uses first person pronoun “I” in phrases like “from what I’ve tasted”, “I think I know enough”, “I hold with those”. All of them show that his opinion is based on his personal experience, “from what [he's] tasted”.
“Some say the world will end in fire/Some in Ice” (1-2). The first lines set the tone for the entire poem. Firstly, the lines introduce the question that the rest of the poem aims to answer: How is the world going to end? Secondly, the word “some” evokes the controversial atmosphere engulfing the entire poem. The adjective “some” describes how many people think one way. However the description is very general because “some” does not give any clue into the specific number. The only certainty that the adjective delivers is that a percentage of people think a different way. Therefore, the reader feels the uncertain tone that is continued throughout the poem with words like