Robert Frost's theory of contraries pervades both his short, lyric poems and his longer, narrative poems. This theory, which is the idea that life consists of two opposing elements, is recognized by the critics to be one of the most common themes running through his lyric poems. However, the narrative poems are almost exclusively approached critically from the standpoint of form and style.

This thesis shows that the theory of contraries is an important concept in the narratives. The framework of Frost's theory has been applied to three areas pertinent to his treatment of the men and women in his narratives: (1) philosophy or the question of man's nature and his relation to the universe; (2) psychology or the mental and emotional reaction of people to their physical and social environment; and (3) sociology or the relationship of men and women to each other and to their community.

The philosophical division of the theory includes the question of man's nature and his relation to the universe. It develops the opposing forces of man's nature versus woman's nature and the contrasting powers within one individual's nature. Also, man's struggle against the negative tension of the universe is developed.

The psychological division of the theory probes into man's conflict in deciding to choose or to drift, and in reacting with fear or courage to his environment.

And finally, the sociological division delves into the contrasts within the communication patterns in marriage, the conflict of man's duty to others or to himself, and the tension . in the contrast between man's need for association and his need for solitude.

This thesis examines the theory of contraries in Frost's narratives by first giving a background explanation of Frost's theory of contraries and a brief look at the contraries in Frost's own life. The body of the thesis is an analysis of seven of the narratives which demonstrate how the poems support Frost's theory of contraries.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Llewellyn E. Foll

Second Advisor

Robert P. Dunn

Third Advisor

Richard B. Lewis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Frost; Robert; 1874-1963; Frost; Robert; 1874-1963--Criticism and interpretation.



Page Count

iii; 102

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives