Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”

In the first stanza, Frost attempts to do many things: he illustrates the setting; he describes the roads; and he explains the significance of the roads. The setting of the poem is drawn in a yellow wood, which suggests that it is autumn. In the following line, “And I’m sorry I could not travel both/and be one traveler long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could/to where it bent in the undergrowth”, the narrator shows his regret that he could only take one (Frost,HO). This demonstrates to the reader that the roads are of great importance, and because he can only travel one it will leave him forever wondering about what it would be like if he had took the other. The narrator spent a lot of time choosing which path to take.

After he studied the first road cautiously, he examined the second one. At first he is more attracted to the second road because “it was grassy and wanted wear” which meant that it was less traveled by (Frost,HO). To say that the path “wanted wear” is a personification (Frost,HO). It gives the road the human characteristic of wanting. After evaluating both roads, he decides that they are equal. He then states that they are really worn about the same. This gives the reader something to think about. If the two roads were utterly diverse, they would each give the speaker different reasons to choose them. He would be able to draw an easier conclusion based on his judgment. Although the two roads appear to be exactly alike, they each may hold different outcomes in the end, and this is what causes the speaker so much controversy. While standing in the forest, he has no other motives then the physical appearance of the two roads to base his decision upon.

Each road is equally lying there covered with leaves waiting to be chosen. Yet again Frost brings up the idea of it being fall, this symbolizes a timeframe in his life (Miss. Bissonnette in class discussion). It could represent that the author is in his middle ages, and taking decisions more seriously then if perhaps he was nineteen. In the third line of this stanza, yet knowing that he will probably never have the chance to come back, the narrator makes a judgment to just go for it. As this is such a difficult choice for him, he knows he must force himself to take the path. If he does not he will never make the choice. If the two roads were indeed the roads of life, then they would have each held something different for the traveler. By not taking one it makes all the difference in the world, because you have lived your life in accordance to a certain path, and if you did not take that road the outcome would be totally different.

The final stanza is one of regret. The speaker sighs in the first line because he is insecure about his original choice. In making such a huge decision, the traveler will never be content about his choice. Even the title “the road not taken” holds a sense of dissatisfaction, why didn’t he title it “the road taken”? It is not the importance of what is clearly said but the underlying message of what is not said. Frost forces the reader to focus on the road he failed to take, rather than the one he did.

Frost gives just enough details in his writing to provide the viewers with a clear picture but allows them the freedom to create their own interpretations. One of the main things that make this poem attractive is the dilemma of picking a path. People immediately relate to that dilemma because most people face it numerous times throughout their lives. The Paths in the woods and forks in roads are metaphors for the many problems and decisions that fill one’s life. This poem says that we are free to choose, but we do not really know what we are choosing between. It does not say to take the path less traveled by nor take the path that is more traveled. The speaker knows that he will either second guess the decision somewhere down the line or wonder what was down the other path. In reality there is no right path, only the chosen path and the other path.

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