Informed by the insights of scholarly authorities including Lionel Trilling and Randall Jarrell, critics since the mid-twentieth century have been wont to find in the corpus of Robert Frost a profound pessimism, Gothicism, and scepticism. This seems to go against the grain of Frost s reputation as one of the most popular and revered of American poets. The dominant critical discourse surrounding the poet holds that beneath the surface of Frost s homespun wisdom and provincial charm beats the heart of a despairing man, whose poetry reflects the abandonment of hope, the stark confrontation between the frail and fleeting human and the indifferent and eternal universe. This study does not seek to invalidate this critical perspective entirely, but it does propose a modulation and counter-reading. In this study, I will argue that Frost s philosophical and aesthetic orientations are far more robust and sophisticated than traditional Gothic readings alone can accommodate. The potentially unnuanced categorization of Frost as a Gothic scribe of doom and gloom misrepresents a complex and often ambivalent aesthetic rooted in a fundamental dualism. Though often antagonistic to organized religion, Frost must nevertheless be recognized as a spiritual poet who combines doubt with faith, despair with hope and darkness with light.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.