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Analysis and comments on The Lockless Door by Robert Frost

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Comment 47 of 857, added on April 2nd, 2006 at 3:43 PM.

Frost's 'The Lockless Door' flows well and can be interpreted very
literally.
Re-reading each line gives a new meaning up until the final stanza. The
final
stanza turns the entire meaning of the poem on its head.

At first, the speaker seems to be in a room. The room symbolises his own
fear of
something. The knocking on the door may be a reminder of his constant
fear.
However he can't bring himself to answer it, or to conquer his fear.

In the second stanza, he tries to make it look like he isn't there. He
submits
to his fear yet again. He 'raised both hands in prayer to the door'. This
shows that even after all this time, the fear still has power over him.

When he looks out the window, it suggests that he can finally beat his
fear. He takes a step forward and has a look at what might happen if he
just answers the knock. He climbs back into the window and decides to
answer the knock.

The final stanza suggests that once he re-enters the room, the answers the
door. Because of this, he is finally free of his fear. ‘To hide in the
world’, he is able to be normal again and blend in. He can ‘alter with
age’, meaning he can grow old in peace and without this fear.



James Banh from Australia
Comment 46 of 857, added on April 1st, 2006 at 9:42 PM.

This poem is very interesting in the way it can move you and make you draw
upon different conclusions every time you read it. After reading the poem
many times I am still unsure as to what the poem really means as the poem
is quite ambiguous. My general understanding of the poem is that the
character in the poem is hiding from something that he has been hiding from
for many years as in the poem “It went many years”. “But at last came a
knock” is suggesting that whatever the character was hiding from has
finally come back to haunt him. The second stanza suggests that the
character is afraid of this thing he has been hiding from that is at the
door so he “blew out the light and tip-toed the floor”. “And raised both
hands in prayer to the door” means that the character is praying that
whatever it is would just go away and leave him alone. When the knock comes
again in the third stanza, the character finds a window and tries to escape
from the thing at the door, but then he comes back to perhaps face his
fears and meet this thing he has been hiding from. But when the knock comes
again, I believe the character becomes fearful once again and so escapes to
hide in the world.

Will L. from Australia
Comment 45 of 857, added on April 2nd, 2006 at 12:08 AM.

Not only is this poem rhythmic and flowing, but the contents of it are
thoughtful and influencing. Many conclusions and ideas of what Frost was
thinking of can be drawn from this poem, and I still am not sure which one
is the most accurate.
In the first stanza, we come to realization that many years had past before
a “knock” on the lockless door came. However, some may not notice the part
“And I thought of the door”. This line can be interpreted as this lockless
door was something of the past, and frost is about to tell a story. So if
we look at the first stanza again, it can possibly mean that many years
past, and then came a knock on my door, which triggered me to think of my
old door with no lock to lock. Then we look at the metaphorical meanings of
the words, which may perhaps be metaphorical, or possibly not. For if there
was a knock on the door now, that made have triggered frost to think of the
story, but this knock may not be the same “knock” that he refers to in the
story he tells.
Now the second third and fourth stanzas can be accepted as being told as a
story of the past. And the fifth would be the conclusion, a sort of side
note from the writer.

The story begins with Frost referring to himself as I, blowing out the
candle light, tip-toeing across the floor, and then giving a prayer to the
“lockless door”. We can accept that this is the actual event, or we can
delve deeper into these English words and pull out a metaphorical meaning
from this stanza. Blowing out the light could be possibly resembled ridding
the “good” of himself, as in perhaps doing something against the law. Light
can be assumed as “good”, as the dark can be seen as “evil. Tip-toeing
across the floor, may be understood as him doing something secretly not
wanting to be heard, and seen for that matter if we think of the light as
actual light as well. To raise both hands in a prayer, can be excusing
himself, with two hands up to show his innocence and also a prayer to the
“lockless door”. But then what is this lockless door we speak of, and
perhaps the prayer may have been to the first knock, which is the implied
knock which Frost brings in by saying he thought about the door.

So the mysterious “knock” comes again in the third stanza. A window and we
automatically assume that he is inside a room with only a door and window.
This window is open wide, and He climbs onto the sill before exiting. Again
we can take this information as the actual story, or break it down to turn
it into something different. Firstly, he says “My window” this can be taken
as he was in his room, or it can also be taken after reading the later
lines, as his escape out of not a room, but of confinement. So his escape
was wide, wide being it was a good opportunity to take to escape from his
confinement. Normally people aren’t able to climb onto a window sill being
so small, and also, why does he specify climbing onto the sill? Climbing
onto something usually takes effort so we can assume that he is using some
effort to get to this “sill” which can be inferred as a midpoint of escape.
To descend outside from a window is not that easy. It is possible that he
was high up and also he describes it as a seemingly easy task. So maybe he
had an easy time getting out of this confinement. Outside can be of many
meanings, with it being literal or simply his own guilty conscience.

The fourth stanza can get rather confusing, as he says “Back over the
sill”; if taken literally we assume that he gets back over the window, he
then greets the knocker but then says he doesn’t’ know what was the door,
we understand then that maybe he didn’t go back in at all, instead part of
him goes back not the conscious part but a sense, which then greets
whatever was at the door, but Frost himself is no longer inside. However,
taking it one more step further into the metaphorical sense we see it as.
He retreats back into his confinement and tells the “knocker” to “come in”.
This makes us assume that perhaps this knocker is a fear of Frost’s and he
is trying to come back to face it, but in the next line it seems he never
faced it. Perhaps this knock could be anything at all, as “whatever” may
mean that Frost himself didn’t know what was to take place, and he simply
wasn’t sure about it.

Then the conclusion comes which can be taken as a message from Frost.
Interpreting this we see that this knock that happened emptied his cage,
cage being possibly his room, or his mind, or his confined situation. He
then hides in the world, world being either literal, society itself, or in
the rest of his mind. Alter can mean changed as in change of himself, with
experience due to age, or it can be simply ageing on. Looking at it again,
we can see that he was able to escape the unfortunate experience which he
had, and managed to grow old. And we can link this ageing with the first
stanza where he says “it went many years”, for that also means that he is
an old person.

So now we have to figure out what this knock and this lockless door could
have been. Either a person or an abstract event or feeling, the knock did
not open this lockless door. A lockless door means that the door cannot be
secured shut but it can be closed and opened. Then why did the entity which
knocked not simply come in? Or perhaps this door was opened in the first
place, and the entity which knocked did not want to come in.


Jinn K. from Australia
Comment 44 of 857, added on April 1st, 2006 at 6:07 AM.

The Lockless Door, a Robert Frost poem, has a metaphorical meaning.
Rhyming every second line in the pattern of ABCB, it gives the poem rhythm
and flow. The poem also has beat that is much like an iambic pentameter.
This again gives the poem a rhythm, but also sets a relaxing pace for the
poem to be read. The five stanzas – each with four lines – depict an image
of someone who has some sort of guilt or something to fear. The first
stanza reveals the past guilt has resurfaced after “many years” of waiting
and hiding. The knock on the door is like the beating of his conscience.
The door with no lock signifies that his guilt cannot be forgotten and it
will come back to haunt him. In the second stanza, when he blows out the
light and tiptoes the floor, it shows that he does not want to reveal his
presence. When he prays to the door, he is begging that his guilty
conscience will just leave him alone. When the knock comes again in the
third stanza, he realises that his guilt will not leave and seeks a way to
escape. He finds that a “window” is his only means of escape and goes upon
that path. However, in the forth stanza, he is uncertain of whether the
path he has chosen is the right one. He knows he will have to face his
conscience one day and “bade [his conscience] a ‘Come in’”. However, he is
still outside the window and is unsure if he should face it or flee from
it. The fifth and final stanza does not provide a definite conclusion for
this poem. I believe that he has fled from his conscience once again “to
hide in the world”. He “emptied his cage” which shows that he has left his
refuge. However, it could also give the alternative meaning. He may have
gone back in and faced his conscience and emptied his cage of guilt. He
then hides “in the world and alter with age”, becoming like everyone else,
his guilt becoming a thing of the past.

Andrew from Australia
Comment 43 of 857, added on April 1st, 2006 at 1:06 AM.

This poem is very powerful, that affects you immediately after reading. I
decided only to read a few responses and compare them to my own response,
as they influence your own opinion into something that isn't your own. The
Lockless door definitely follows a being that has a deep fear, which is
possibly related to a past guilt that has affected him greatly over the
years. This can be demonstrated by systematically looking through the
poem. The first stanza could be seen as referring to a recollection (and
almost paranoia) of the past guilt, with the knocking at the door
representing the beating of his conscience. The Door commented in the
first stanza, having no "lock to lock” is the door to the guilt and fear
created by the past and that can never be "locked out".
The second stanza goes into how the narrator feels about the sudden
recurrence of guilt (and possibly remorse). It tells us of how the
narrator tries to “hide” from the knock at the door (his impending guilt)
and prays that it goes away. The Third stanza continues on, to tell us
that the guilt cannot disappear with a few wishes and prayers, and that the
narrator believes his only escape is through the “window”, which could be
seen as an escape from one’s current life and lifestyle, and descends to
the ground outside. The Fourth stanza tells of how the narrator decides
to, after leaving their current situation, to face the past guilt and fear
to try and absolve themselves.
Finally, the fourth stanza can be interpreted in a number of different
ways. Firstly, one could interpret that the narrator tries and escapes
from his guilt by running away from their problem, thus “emptying the
cage…(and) altering with age”. Secondly, it could be interpreted that
after the narrator asks the thing at the door, to “come in”, he faces the
fear and guilt and is able to join the rest of the world as an equal; i.e.
hiding in the world, and altering with age as well all do through life.
I personally believe that whatever has been met has been dealt with.
Therefore, the meaning of the words “So at a knock, I emptied my cage”
could be interpreted as; “all it took was a knock (wake up call) to allow
the narrator to empty their life/living (cage) of guilt”. The words
following “To hide in the world and alter with age” could have the meaning
of the narrator returning to the general world, and altering with age as
everyone else does.


Arjun.V from Australia
Comment 42 of 857, added on March 31st, 2006 at 9:27 PM.

This poem seems to be metaphor for someone's thoughts, feelings or fears.
The lockless door is the representation of those feelings because no one
can lock out fear or guilt.
The knock represents a a feeling or thought. (such as fear)
The line "In prayer to the door" could mean that the person in the poem is
begging the knock to go away.
The open window is a chance to escape from the thoughts.
The emptying of the cage seems to suggest the person ran away from their
fears rather than embraced it.


Another thought i had on the poem was:
The lockless door is death, you cant escape from death and hence cannot
lock it away.
"It went many years" This line could suggest the person has lived many
years,"But at last came a knock" could suggest the person is ready to die.
The prayer line could mean the person is asking not to die and the window
is a chance of escape.
"I bade a "come in" could represent the person's doubt about dying. but in
the next line the knock is still there. So i belived the person ran away
and "alter with age" (grow older perhaps?)

p.s Assume the subject of the poem is a person.

Danny from Australia
Comment 41 of 857, added on March 31st, 2006 at 7:16 PM.

The Lockless Door is basically about the speaker's personal fear of
society. The door having no lock implies certain vulnerability. Society is
urging him to come out. The way I see it, as in the first stanza, Frost had
been in the house, the cage, maybe for sometime. Perhaps he was lonely and
had been waiting for someone or something as company. In many ways, the
poem seemed to be telling me that it is about a person who has been
isolated for so long that he feared what is outside, the reality of life,
so he tends to stay in his house, the cage where everything is under his
control. When the knock came, it could be his inner self trying to wake him
up. After crawling through the window, the speaker has come out, but is
still somewhat safe. The end of the poem states that the speaker has
actually entered the surrounding society. The irony in this is that, even
though he has emerged from this smaller "cage", he has only entered a
larger one, one in which he will now hide in until he becomes more
comfortable.

Giang from Australia
Comment 40 of 857, added on March 31st, 2006 at 6:18 PM.

This is a very powerful poem. You can read it again and again and it still
has a new meaning each time. From the first line I knew there could be
multiple meanings but I still find new ones each time I see it, and they
all are correct interpretations.
The first stanza says the figure had waited, or hid, for many before
something came knocking.
In the second he’s hoping this thing will go away, but doesn’t want it to
know he’s there.
In the third he’s escaping out the window, trying to run from whoever it
is.
By the forth stanza he’s made it to the ground but has a sort of nervous
curiosity, he climbs back up to sill and tells it to come in. He knows who
it is but not what it is.
In the final stanza he has run out in to world to hide and change.


Luke from Australia
Comment 39 of 857, added on March 30th, 2006 at 8:13 PM.

This is quite an interesting poem that can be quite ambiguous at times. The
poem already hits you as it begins with the lines “it went many years”
which can suggest that there was something done by the character many years
ago, possibly something that he cannot escape from, hence the title “the
lockless door.” “In prayer to the door” may suggest that the character is
praying for the event to pass by, hoping for a turn for the best. The
characters discovery of the window sill and climbing out of it hints that
the character wants to run away from the confrontation of the door knocker,
suggesting it’s a moment where the character does not want to be in. When
the character “bades a come in” this may mean that his conscience is
starting to tell him to confront this door knocker and settle it, although
still hanging on the window still as if he cannot decide whether to
confront or flee. With the knocking continuing the “ I emptied my cage, to
hide in the world and alter with age.” May suggest that the character has
fled from the confrontation with the door knocker and decides to hide from
it, waiting to disappear with age.

In all it is in my opinion that the character is in a situation where he
does not want to be in and decides to hide from the problem and waiting for
it to disappear with age or in time, although there is some hint that he
still wants to confront the problem having already fled from it.


Henry from Australia
Comment 38 of 857, added on March 29th, 2006 at 5:54 PM.

This poem seems to be presenting an imagery of the sense of fear that
surrounds the author when something comes to haunt him. This fear comes in
the form of a knock at the door. The author responds by blowing out a
candle in his room. and tiptoe-ing across the floor. This gives us a sense
of darkness and tension. you can just imagine the room being dark and
silent. This is the initial confrontation the author has with the knock.
At first, it seems like he is going to confront the fear. However, the
poem later mentions him "Climbed on the sill, and descended outside."

Marcus Wong from Australia

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Information about The Lockless Door

Poet: Robert Frost
Poem: 44. The Lockless Door
Volume: New Hampshire
Year: 1923
Added: Feb 1 2004
Viewed: 31470 times
Poem of the Day: Jun 24 2002


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