“The Road not Taken” by Richard Frost Essay
The road not taken is a poem that most people have misinterpreted for a long time. Some say the poem the poet is talking about a road less travelled. However, a keen look at the poem reveals the opposite as the speaker talks about a road not taken at all as opposed to a road less travelled. The last stanza of the poem is ironic and talks about choosing a road and living with the decision.
The speaker is not concerned with the road less traveled, but choosing one road at the fork. A decision to take one road has to be made because “And sorry I could not travel both” (Frost 2). No road is less travelled as the speaker puts it “the passing there / Had worn them really about the same” (Frost 9-10).
Therefore, the speaker has to take one of the roads and live with the consequences of taking that road. The two roads pose a dilemma for the speaker, but a choice has to be made. The roads symbolize the decisions that people have to make in their day to day lives. Sometimes one cannot tell how the decision one makes will turn out, but it is fate that it has to be made and the rest left to chance.
The last stanza is ironic because the speaker introduces a sign of remorse through his words “I shall be telling with a sigh” (Frost 16). He seems to be justifying the reason he took the less travelled road “because it was grassy and wanted wear” (Frost 8). He is trying to say even though taking that road has its consequences it was really a matter of fate as both roads looked equally worn.
He seems to be saying that he could not have known what was ahead on the path he took, but maybe things would have different if he had taken the other road that he did not. It is ironic that he would feel remorse yet a decision had to be made to take one path between the two unknown roads.
It is ironical that the speaker would have to explain his decision in his later days yet he made a decision that had to be made and the nature takes its course. Furthermore, the speaker has no control of what may happen to his life in the path that he chose, but there is the chance of regretting taking it because the other one not taken may have had a different result. However, he will never know because there is no chance of going back to take the road not taken.
Besides, the speaker has shown independence of mind at the point of making his decisions because he says: “I choose the one less travelled by/And that has made all the difference” (Frost 19-20). Thus, he chose to go a different way than most people. For instance, many would take the more travelled road, but would it have made any difference?
The speaker is remorseful and he shall be telling “somewhere ages and ages hence” (Frost 17). The less travelled road does not mean it is necessarily a better choice because he says something different in the last stanza hence the irony (Pritchard 1).
On the other hand, the irony in the last stanza shows that we can only know the outcome of making a decision after we have made it and not a minute before as the speaker demonstrates. He observed both paths “And looked down one as far as I could/ To where it bent in the undergrowth” (4-5). The other road he saw it was grassy and he “And having perhaps the better claim” (Frost 7). At that point he could not tell the outcome of taking that road that he did even though he chose the one that was grassy and less travelled.
The irony is that one has to make a choice and only know if it was good or bad after setting out as opposed to knowing the implications beforehand so as to make informed choices. It means that human beings have to make decisions and learn on the go. The destination of human being will only be realized upon arrival (Richardson 1). Therefore, one must learn to live with the decisions made in life.
In conclusion, the two roads that the speaker has to choose between and take one look the same. He has to use his impulse to make the decision. However, at the end of the poem the tone becomes ironic and the speaker seems to regret taking the road that he took. Therefore, he can only guess how his life would have been if he had taken the other road, but he will never know the difference it would have made.
More importantly, should the speaker live with regret of the outcome of the choice he made or become content because there was nothing much he could do apart from choosing. It seems some decisions we make in life are really necessary, but we have no power over how they turn out and we can choose to live in regrets or be glad we took the road that we did for all the things we encounter in our lives.
Frost, Richard. The road not taken. n.d. Web. <https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-road-not-taken/>.
Pritchard, William. On the road not taken. n.d. Web. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/road.htm>.
Richardson, Mark. On the road not taken. n.d. Web. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/road.htm>
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