A Guide to Interpretation
While Deconstruction utilizes the elements of analysis employed by New Criticism and Structuralism (among other approaches) to explore various narratives of meaning, it does not prioritize any one narrative of meaning. Deconstructionist interpretation is frequently misunderstood as resulting in an absence of meaning when in fact it should result in a multiplicity of meanings. This type of reading is about identifying the assumed/naturalized/essentialist significations in a text and then reading against those assumptions etc., to discover their instability. Deconstructionist theory asserts that texts are already and always deconstructed as the relationship between signifier and signified is unstable and fluid. While Deconstruction in theory might involve an endless exploration of differences (differances) in a text, practically speaking it is used in contemporary readings to expose false binaries and challenge essentialist thinking. For this essay you should produce two readings: the default and contrary reading which addresses the instability of the default reading.
Using your Literary Theory Key Terminology sheet, your Elements of Analysis sheet, and your Poetry Terminology sheet, you will read the poem provided and write a 500-750 word analysis which accomplishes the following:
Make sure you are referring to/citing the relevant parts of the text by quoting and indicating the line number in parentheses. You should consider using terminology such as difference, naturalization, essentialism, signifier, signified, instability. You will have one full class period to complete the essay.
Fire and Ice
BY ROBERT FROST (1920)
Some say the world will end in fire, 1
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice, 5
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
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