Paper 1

Submitted By sresad32
Words: 1751
Pages: 8

Sehar Resad
Professor Lisa Ruddick (CA: Eric Powell)
Introduction to Poetry
3 November 2014
Design Tactics in Robert Frost’s Design Robert Frost’s Design, is an intricate poem taking the reader on a journey of questioning whether the random occurrences in the world are mere coincidences, or alternatively, occurrences that are designed to happen or controlled with a purpose. This question is further complicated by the ideas of lightness versus darkness and good versus evil, and how something such as darkness and evil could be done on purpose. Though the question of design is one that cannot necessarily be answered, Frost steers his readers in the direction of a particular believe. In Design, Frost alters the Petrarchan sonnet form and meter where advantageous and uses various linguistic tactics such as simile and particular diction to skew the ideas of the reader towards believing in a higher-power element of design, particularly in considering the darkness in the world, rather than simple coincidence leading to darkness. Although the poem appears to be about questioning this idea, Frost as the designer of his work, leaves less interpretation up to the reader than initially perceived, ultimately working as the higher power design that he is suggesting exists. The sonnet can be looked at as two separate entities working in tandem. The opening octave is a description of observations of a scene in which a spider, moth, and flower are brought together, while the sestet is composed of questions that are philosophically inquiring the significance of this scene. Or otherwise, the octave can be seen as a staged description that intentionally describes the scene to suggest intentional design. This thought is carried through to keep in mind when considering the questions of the sestet, and whether it is coincidence or design that governs the world, and whether that design creates evil. In the description within the first stanza, the reader is introduced to a white spider, on a white flower, holding a white moth. In the opening line, the spider is described as “dimpled,” “fat and white.” The idea of a spider being dimpled and fat creates a grotesque image of a spider indulging in gluttony, and the fact that it is white, immediately indicates something is unnatural about it, as spiders are not usually white. The spider is also holding up a moth, making it the killer. Ironically, the spider and the moth are both on a white heal-all, a flower that is normally a blue-violet and believed to have healing powers. Instead of having a healing presence, the heal-all serves as the place of death of the moth. Interestingly, the spider is also described as kindred, implying its relatedness to the heal-all. This relatedness can be interpreted to additionally emphasis the heal-alls dark and negative role in the scene. The color white also has great significance, as it is the color of innocence and purity, but this unnatural white for the heal-all is insinuated to be the cause of darkness that results. Furthermore, white can be indicative of divinity. The use of the color white suggests that darkness of the moth’s death, resulting from things portrayed as innocent and pure white was due to a divine or higher power. This helps create the underlying idea that this divine power is in fact present and responsible for the design of the scene to result in the death of the moth on the heal-all. Also, Simile plays a large role in steering the reader towards believing the darkness in the world is made by design. The use of simile creates a direct comparison between things and blatantly states the comparison to the reader. Frost uses simile many times within the first stanza. Perhaps the most notable is in lines four through six: “Assorted characters of death and blight \\ Mixed read to begin the morning right, \\ Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth -.” Ingredients are brought together for a particular purpose, and combined to get an expected