Fire and Ice
by Robert Frost
Fire and Ice Theme of Hate
Many readers of "Fire and Ice" – including us – think Frost was inspired partly by the image of malicious sinners trapped in ice at the bottom of Dante's Hell in his epic poem the Inferno. Contrary to the fire-and-brimstone view that the worst of the worst are tortured by flames for all eternity, Dante locks these folks up in a frozen lake. Some kinds of hate can be hot, like the hate of a jealous lover, but usually the most malicious forms of hate are seen as cold, like icy, premeditated revenge. Unlike love, which shouts its name through the streets, hate works in the shadows.
Questions About Hate
- What does it mean to "know enough of hate"? What do you imagine the speaker's experience with hate has been? Be imaginative!
- Would you associate all kinds of hate with "ice"? Why isn't hate a hot emotion in this poem?
- Are you more afraid of people who could lose their temper at any minute, or people who are really good at plotting revenge and manipulation?
- Why is the tone at the end of the poem considered ironic?
Chew on This
The phrase "know enough of hate" conceals a wide and multi-faceted exposure to hatred on the part of the speaker.
Ice is portrayed more negatively than fire.