Robert Frost Departmental Analyis

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25 April 2013

In four time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Frost’s poem, Departmental (1936), he suggests that people over simplify the meaning of life and individualism. He supports his claim by first employing perspective by contrasting ant size compared to human, then by shifting focus from individual to society, then finally by setting up a parallel between ants and humanity. His purpose is to encourage the reader to consider life from a more complex stand point. He uses a whimsically philosophical tone for and audience of deep thinkers and individuals. Frost uses changing perspective to contrast the size of the ant of the reader. This is preparing the reader to consider the differences between the ant and the human world. In the first three lines Frost depicts a typical scene with a tablecloth outside. “An ant on the tablecloth/Ran into a dormant moth/ of many times his size”. The reader is focusing in on the tablecloth, then narrows the focus to the tiny ant, then pulls back to the large moth, and then finally the reader must consider his own size because he is viewing this scene. Frost has prepared the reader in an entertaining way to consider the differences between the simple world of the ant and the complex world of humanity. In addition to shifting focus of perspective, Frost also shift the focus from individual to society. At first the reader might believe the poem will be about the individual ant and his encounter with a moth. However the focus quickly changes to the ant world society. The ant did not pay attention to the moth because “His business was not with such”. Frost shows What the focus is with and that is the race of the ants, “Ants are a curious race;” this shift in focus makes the reader reflect on the concept of individualism. The final technique Frost uses is setting up a parallel between ants and humans. In lines 12 to 37 Frost depicts the ant world as complex, even human like with “selfless...
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