Mr Dettman – Year 9En1 – Robert Frost’s ‘The Fear’

Due: Friday, 9th January

Google “Robert Frost’s The Fear’ Poem” or click on the following link to download and read the poem: Robert Frost The Fear

E/D Grade: Select 3-4 ‘adjectives’ (descriptive words) or ‘verbs’ (doing words) that communicate atmosphere, or show the characters’ fear.

  • Shows some understanding of language.

• Attempts to comment on the effect of language
• Selects some relevant quotations

C Grade: How does Robert Frost communicate ‘Fear’ throughout this poem?  Select several quotes from the text, and explain how the language and punctuation used communicates this fear.

Shows clear understanding of language

  • Clearly explains the effects of the writer’s choices of language
  • Selects relevant quotations

A/B Grade:

What is the ‘The Fear’ about which Robert Frost writes?  Evaluate how effective Robert Frost is, in making the reader feel fearful.

Shows detailed and perceptive understanding of language

• Analyses the effects of the writer’s choices of language
• Selects a judicious range of quotations


19 thoughts on “Mr Dettman – Year 9En1 – Robert Frost’s ‘The Fear’

  1. Jonah

    I think “The Fear” is the unknown as the woman in the car wouldn’t have been scared if she knew who the man was. “Joel, I’ll have to look. I can’t go in,
    I can’t, and leave a thing like that unsettled.
    Doors locked and curtains drawn will make no difference.” This shows that she is afraid of the unknown as she won’t leave before getting an explanation of who the man is.

    The man could also be someone in the man and woman’s past life as they keep dropping hints like “Did he look like——?” which could indicate they both know who they are talking about as the man didn’t even need to say a name before the woman knew who it was.

    1. mrdettman Post author

      Jonah – I agree about the man being from her past life. It’s just something you pick up as you read, and her decision to approach him and speak to him. Why do you think her husband doesn’t want to go with her and protect her? What makes her want to approach him by herself?

    2. Julius

      I think that the fear Rober Frost writes about is the fear of losing the war against the Germans and so the fear that there happen bad things you can`t effect. So the woman is afraid that somebody enters the house during she isn´t there. Maybe the author tried to manage his fear of losing the war against the germans writing the down in this poem.

      1. mrdettman Post author

        Very abstract, Julius. Have you managed to find out some interesting back story to Robert Frost’s life that would give meaning to the poem? By all means, share it on your blog post. Vielen dank.

  2. Katie L

    I believe the fear is the future; the unknown; the abyss of what happens next. As well as this, I think she is scared of the dark and, developing this, being lonely in the pitch blackness. “‘What are you doing round this house at night?’ ‘Nothing.’ A pause: there seemed no more to say.
    And then the voice again: ‘You seem afraid.'” They were obviously afraid of this unknown voice and the ominous black fortress that laid ahead of them.

    I think that Frost is effective at portraying the ‘fear’ in some ways, and ineffective in others. Let me explain. I think that the strength in this is the build up because it creates tension. Whereas the ending is a bit dissappointing in my opinion. In a quote, this is why the beginning is good: “He looked like anyone. I’ll never rest to-night unless I know.” It’s not about the element of isomnia, but “I’ll never rest to-night.” The use of the word ‘never’ is almost a superlative in a way. It’s not a ‘not rest that well tonight’, but it’s a ‘I will NEVER rest to-night.’

    Despite this, the end is a bit of a let-down. The poem simply ends with “It touched, it struck it, clattered and went out.” I think that Robert’s aim for this was to make a form of enigma within the readers’ mind- why did it go out? Why would it touch and break? All of these unanswered questions and I’m not too keen on the ending.

    1. mrdettman Post author

      Great that you’ve mentioned the ‘abyss’! Have you heard that from Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo? There is a quote about staring into the abyss. As a Challenge, if you can find it, find out who it was who said it, and explain it to me Chessie, you’ll be getting a Praise Point. I agree with the build up being the most effective part. But is it always a bad thing to leave on a cliff-hanger? I think your evaluation of it reflects your own annoyance of not finding out what (or who!) generated the fear. I think that final line is great – don’t you find it a little menacing?

      1. Katie L

        (It’s Katie)
        Yes, I suppose it can be a good thing to end on a cliffhanger- but I’m not too keen on it being used in this context. In stories, yes, it can be quite effective, but in poems? That’s completely different.
        The final line is a little menacing, but I don’t really get it… It doesn’t really relate to the whole poem in a way.
        p.s. I think I found the quote

  3. Chessie

    I think that the fear that Robert Frost is writing about is the dark, I think that the woman that Joel is with is more scared than Joel himself.

    Concerning the concept of evaluating Frost’s writing, I’m not a great fan of it. I think that the poem itself is a little bit too similar to the writing frame of a story; this doesn’t make it too authentic.

    I quote “I have always felt strange when we came home to the DARK house so long after an absence”, this quote says that it would feel strange coming to a dark house instead of the house being welcoming.

    1. mrdettman Post author

      Do you think it’s just the dark Chessie? Why do you think she’s scared? That’s the crux of the poem. Do we ever find out, or is it the enigma itself (the ‘unknown’) that contributes to the fearful aspect of the poem?

      1. Chessie

        Not really, I guess that she is quite scared of the unknown happening to her, maybe she is scared of it because of something that happened to her in the past? To answer your second question, yes, I think that the enigma of the unknown contributes majorly to Frost’s poem.

  4. bronwyn.j

    I think that ‘the fear’ is the uncertainty of what could happen in the future-the unknown. The women wouldn’t be scared if she knew who/what was out there. She didn’t know if she was going to get hurt and the questions-the curiosity, it ll builds up in he mind to create fear.

    As a reader, everyone can relate to this, as we all become nervous/scared at something we are uncertain about and so i think that is how Robert makes the reader fearful.

    1. mrdettman Post author

      Remember that you need capitals for titles, even within quote marks. The fear of that which is unknown is something that a group of philosophers (Freud/Jacques Lacan I think) discuss. If you can research any more information (and this is really tough stuff!) about what they’re talking about, and explain it in a straightforward, easy-to-understand manner, I’ll give you a Praise Point.

  5. Lucy Branton :D

    Fear can be under a lot of different titles, but for many, is automatically judged as a negative thing. Researching the definition on the internet, the online dictionary came up with this:
    An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
    “I cowered in fear as bullets whizzed past”
    synonyms: terror, fright, fearfulness, horror, alarm, panic, agitation, trepidation,dread, consternation, dismay, distress;

    This gives the impression that something bad happens, and indeed it does.
    The protagonist, the lady, gets out of the car to investigate (the poem indeed stated the mode of transport was a car: “The man grasped a wheel, “, although before a single quote may give the impression that the transport was a horse: “a horse’s hoof pawed once the hollow floor”, but, alas, there was just a horse in the background, perhaps in a field beside the road- *mental sigh*), and upon discovering the “man’s face”, tells her partner, most likely her lover, after a major struggle under which her partner entraps her, an action provoked by his own fear. The “man’s face” brings fear to her mind, thus she pushes her lover away, in a protective manner. “Did he look like——?” gives the impression that they both truly know who the man is, one in denial, one facing the truth, and yet they both actually want to confirm it. “You’re not to come,” she said. “This is my business.
    If the time’s come to face it, I’m the one
    To put it the right way. He’d never dare-” proves that they know who “the man” is, and the protagonist admitting that it is her business suggests that this man is a close relative, or a significant figure in her life that has either done her wrong or she has bestowed wrong upon him. “What couldn’t he do to us standing here!” gives the impression of fear as it half-implies that the man is a psychotic axe-murderer, which therefore implies fear on both the protagonist and her companion, and the reader. And finally, after Joel has left, and the protagonist and antagonist have had a lengthy conversation, “The swinging lantern lengthened to the ground,
    It touched, it struck it, clattered and went out” tells us that the antagonist has either seriously injured the protagonist, or, confirming my axe-murderer suspicions, murdered her.

    Sorry it was so long
    😀 Happy story 😀

    1. mrdettman Post author

      Lovely vocabulary throughout, ranging from ‘protagonist’ (is she the protagonist, or merely a victim?!) Do you think the roles have been reversed her? If you agree, why do you think Frost does this? Why does the woman put herself in harms way? Why is she so desperate t approach him, despite her own obvious fear? I love that ending. It leaves it so open – I think, like you, I naturally assume the worst. That’s what happens when you shroud a scene in enigma.

      1. Lucy Branton :D

        Thank you for your feedback, Mr Dettman.
        I think that the woman puts herself in harms way to face her past. She knows something bad has yet to happen, and knows she has to face it, but doesn’t want her partner to be involved.

  6. julie

    The writers chose of language is indecisive and this creates enigma. This makes the poem more interesting and makes you want to read on. For example, there are a range of questions;
    “I didn’t see it.

    Are you sure——”

    “Yes, I’m sure!”

    “—it was a face?”
    Also, the hyphens create pause and create tension in the poem it also creates fear in the readers mind. I think this poem is about not now know what is out there this is created by the questions. Other descriptive adjective that create an image in the readers mind are “as plain as a white plate” this poem over all creates powerful images and interest the reader with enigma.

  7. katie s

    I think that the fear is of the unknown, as neither the woman nor her husband know what / who the man is. I think that the man is trying to reassure his wife – and himself – when he says
    “I didn’t see it”. He is denying he fact that there could be a stranger near, or in, his house.
    I think that the language and punctuation used in this poem makes it enigmatic and scary. The reader doesn’t know what or who the man is, and in most stories/poems etc. the reader would know what the mystery was before the character. I think that the mystery that is kept on this story makes it more effective and fearfull

  8. Jenna

    Something I noticed was the fact that thy knew who they was talking about straight away – as if this person is such a significant figure in their lives that they have no need to name him. “In the first place you can’t make me believe it’s—-”

    ‘What couldn’t he do to us standing here!’ Could mean that he is very dangerous and has dangerous thoughts. Which leads me to wonder why the woman fears him so much. “You’re not to come,” she said. “This is my business.’ Has she wronged him before? Is he an ex lover? Who knows.

    The ending proposes that they found the character they feared, ‘The swinging lantern lengthened to the ground,
    It touched, it struck it, clattered and went out.’ This could mean the lady was hurt or so shocked to see the person that she lost control.

  9. keeley

    I think that ‘The Fear’ is the unknown and the uncertainty of the future happenings, this is because of the unsure questions asked for example; “I didn’t see it, are you sure?” “you must have seen it too?” I think the woman’s feelings are shown by what she says when she first see’s the figure, she says “Joel, I’ll have to look, I cant go in, I cant, and leave a thing like this unsettled.” This phrase shows her extreme fear but her husband seems like he is trying to cover up the fact that someone might be there, he does this by saying “I say it was someone passing,” and carry’s on towards the house.


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