Through critical analysis of this short prose in the archetypal perspective, one can firmly establish the mood and the tone found in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Examination of key types of archetypal categories, namely, character and situation types, as well as Symbols and associations can lead to a conclusion of the mood and tonal effects of this poem. The poem is of a simple structure, and is written in first person narration, and includes no character names, which leads us to look at the main characters nature.
The main character is a nameless man, who with his horse, wanders into a snowy forest. He is an outcast, as he finds comfort in being alone, The woods are lovely, dark and deep this shows how he finds tranquility in the empty woods. Another reference to his reclusiveness, is near the end of the poem, And miles to go before I sleep. For a second time, we see how he is outcasted from others. His indication of still being alone and isolated for an extended period of time establishes that it is out of willingness that he is alone.
These incidents would show that the main character is the archetypal outcast, ignored and not belonging to a group. After establishing the archetypal character type, the situation can then be addressed. From the title, as well as reference found in this prose, winter seems to be a reoccurring insinuation. Winter is most often associated with death, as it is the end of life in the season. In the poem, the, darkest evening of the year, is most commonly referred to as the first day of winter.
In the forest, winter is seen as a time of death, as the trees have shed their leaves, and there is much more darkness than any other time of the year. Near the end, the main character repeats, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, besides this being an implication of his isolation, it could also mean rebirth. The miles to go statement could mean there is more to come in the future for both the man and the forest after death. Thus, the obvious archetypal situation here would be that of death and rebirth.
The dark winter is a time of death, while spring proves to be the rebirth of the forest. The man may also experience a rebirth, with his reference to the miles to go before he sleeps. The theme of death and rebirth is highlighted through the use of certain symbols. Darkness plays a predominant role in the poem. The man was walking in the woods on, the darkest evening of the year. This darkness not only describes the beginning of winter, but also the dead and dreariness of the thick blanketed forest. The darkness proves not to be evil though, as most reference to darkness is.
Instead, The woods are lovely, dark and deep. The man admires the quality of the woods, as he finds tranquility in the darkness. The dark image of the woods hides the dead image that the forest is given in the previous stanzas. This darkness is therefore seen by the man to conceal the flaws the woods are said to have in the winter. Allusions to light can be found in the line, Of easy wind and downy flake. The downy flake is a symbol of the purity in the snow, the snow being white, which alludes to light; which is also often seen as white.
Hence, the archetypal symbols and associations found are that of light and darkness. Thus, these archetypes can all be related together to set the mood of the poem. The mood is very soft, much like the main character, who shows no ill regard to being alone in the dark woods. It is comforting, as seen through the mans feelings for the woods. They bring comfort to him, and allow him to question his meaning in life. The archetypes displayed can brought together to coincide the moods of comfort and the soft tone found in this poem.