Study Guide

Neither Out Far Nor in Deep Foolishness and Folly

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Foolishness and Folly

You've probably heard the following saying: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Or something like that. In any case, the people along the sand look pretty crazy and foolish too looking at the sea all day and expecting life's mysteries to hurl themselves at their feet. In "Neither Out Far Nor In Deep" the folly in man's existence rests heavily in the fact that he often forgets that he, you know, exists.

Questions About Foolishness and Folly

  1. How does the speaker use imagery to make the people along the sand appear somewhat foolish?
  2. How does the standing gull symbolize man's folly in staring at the sea all day? Why and for what purpose does that gull appear unnatural and isolated?
  3. Does the poem's last line indicate anything about man's folly? Is there maybe something about our nature that makes us behave in foolish ways?
  4. Despite the people's foolishness, is there still something noble about their search for truth? Is it entirely a foolish waste of time? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Man's folly, in Frost's poem, is his inclination to always search for truths he'll never find while forgetting about his own real life.

As foolish as the people may appear to be, their search for truth is not a complete waste of time. After all, our curiosity is part of what makes us human.

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