Hidden Meanings In The Road Not Taken
A great poet utilizes many poetic devices to make their reader connect with them. They allow readers to feel their emotions and intentions, along with allowing them to recognize the deeper meaning of the poem they have written. A perfect example of one of these poets is Robert Frost. In a particular poem by Frost “The Road Not Taken”, the reader can actually feel what Frost is feeling and connect with him over a century after it was written which explains why it is loved by so many still today. This poem forces you to think about your own life and how every decision you make impacts your future.
Robert Frost published “The Road Not Taken” in 1916 at the age of 42 in New England, Massachusetts. This poem was the first of many in his collection Mountain Interval. This poem, written in iambic tetrameter, contains an ABAAB rhyme scheme in each of its four stanzas. It is written in the past tense and presents the narrator remembering a walk through the woods. A fork in the path forces the speaker to choose which of the two paths he or she will take. The meaning and theme of this poem have been interpreted in many ways over the years, some saying it has no deeper meaning behind it at all. Others, however, argue that there is much more to this poem than meets the eye.
The theme of this poem could be interpreted in many ways depending on the reader. However, no matter what your opinion is, there is much more going on than just a stroll through the woods. The poem’s theme is about the journey of life. The expression ‘down the road’ is used to describe the future, whether it’s months or years from the present. Frost makes the connection between life and traveling in “The Road Not Taken” and cleverly captures the uncertainty of making a decision. No matter what path the narrator chooses, he has no way of knowing what the outcome will be, much like in any decision one makes. However, they also incline that the choice he or she made will confront them with new challenges and experiences. While there is some regret over the path he chose, he realizes that the things he has encountered and the destinations reached, because of the chosen path, have made a dramatic impact on his life.
The speaker in “The Road Not Taken” is not given any sort of name, gender, or identity. All we can determine from the poem is that this speaker is reminiscing on a walk through the woods when they had to decide a fork in the road. These roads could be real or symbolic of life’s many choices and the outcomes of those choices. The speaker in the poem is constantly referring to the road they did not choose to take, the one more often traveled. It appears they are curious about what could have been rather than focusing on the path they did choose.
Symbolism is one of the many poetic elements portrayed throughout the poem. Even in the name itself, you can find many deeper meanings that will help reveal the poet’s theme. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (stanza 1). The two roads are symbolic of the paths that we all choose to take in life. Each road leads to a different destination or future. The woods are also symbolic. It gives the reader a quiet, deserted image with no road signs to help him choose. Just like when making decisions, we have no signs that help us choose and therefore can never know the outcome of a decision we make.
Another poetic tool used in this poem is metaphors. Many poets use metaphors in their work to capture a mental picture for their readers to help them understand the feelings of the speaker. Metaphors can help get the writer’s point across in a brief, effective way. In the words of Frost himself, “Unless you are educated in metaphor, you are not safe to be let loose in the world”. One can see just how important metaphors are to Frost in “The Road Not Taken” because they are used in the entire poem itself. “And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth” These two lines metaphorically represent the fact that no matter how one is looking, one would not be able to predict the outcomes of either path. There are always underlying variables that will surprise you, no matter how simple the decision appears to be.
A poetic device that is often overlooked in this poem is verbal irony. The last line of the poem states “-And that has made all the difference.” This is a perfect example of this. The two roads are described throughout the entire poem as being basically identical. Frost is contradicting himself in this line because if the roads had essentially the same outcome, why would the road the speaker chose made any difference at all? Frost is known for his use of irony at the very end of many of his other works. This is one thing that sets him apart from other famous poets. Another example of irony used in this poem is in the title of the poem itself. Although the title is The Road Not Taken, the focus of this poem is on the road that the speaker did choose to take. “Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, I took the one less traveled by”. One would assume that he would have put the main focus on the subject of the title, but ironically, Frost chose not to.
“The Road Not Taken” is a brilliant poem that has many hidden meanings. It includes many different poetic devices including metaphors, symbolism, and irony to help the reader better understand it. The theme is based on the journey of life, which involves making decisions that will alter an individual’s future no matter what direction they choose to take. The poem is one of his most famous due to how relatable it is to anyone that reads it. By just using a simple fork in a pathway, Frost’s work symbolizes life and choices one will make without knowing the outcome.
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