Analysis: What's Up With the Epigraph?
Epigraphs are like little appetizers to the great entrée of a story. They illuminate important aspects of the story, and they get us headed in the right direction.
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Sounds very apocalyptic, right? Destruction is surely afoot. The question is: "Will it be through fire or ice?" And whose world is ending in Eclipse? Well, given the fact that Bella finds herself confronted with a vampire army that's thirsting for her death, chances are that it's her world that will end. Apparently that's what she gets for all her desire. After all, if she could have it her way, she'd have both Edward and Jacob.
Chapter 22, titled "Fire and Ice," gives us a clue as to the identity of fire and ice in this story. It describes the night when our apocalyptic love trio huddles up in a tent in the woods. A snowstorm rages outside and the world truly seems to come to an end. If it wasn't for "space heater" Jacob, Bella's world would have surely ended in ice, because she would've frozen to death. But again, as so many times before, Jacob, her personal sun, thaws her out and saves her from misery. So, at that point, it's pretty clear: Jacob represents "fire."
That leaves Edward as ice. It doesn't take a Sherlock Homes to figure that one out either. As much as Bella batters us with her symbolism of Jacob's sunniness and warmth, she raves about Edward's snowy coldness. "Knowing enough of hate," Robert Frost might concur with our argument that both Jacob and Edward hold the power to destroy or to end Bella's world as she knows it. In Chapter 22, both Edward and Jacob admit that killing each other sounds like an "intriguing idea" (22.140). It's their love for Bella that causes them to otherwise keep their natural hatred for each other at bay. But while Jacob's fire of hostility and jealousy toward Edward burns very brightly for us to witness, Edward hides his "less civilized" (22.125) feelings toward Jacob under a self-controlled block of ice.
Edward does confess, however, that under different circumstances he could imagine being friends with Jacob, and Edward seems to be deeply concerned about him when he's wounded in battle. Jacob never makes such concession and in the epilogue it becomes clear that he has much more trouble wrangling his hatred of Edward. Examining fire and ice in nature, we know that fire destroys quickly while ice causes things to slowly crack through pressure. What could that mean for the future of our apocalyptic trio? Could it mean that, at the end of Eclipse, Bella's world hasn't come to an end just yet? Will the question of who will destroy her world – fire or ice – remain open-ended, like in the poem? Then again, Meyer chose a poem by a man named "Frost," so maybe that's to give us a clue as well.
(If you want to learn more about Robert Frost's poem "Fire and Ice," you can read our detailed analysis on Shmoop Poetry.)