“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost Essay
1. Robert Frost is the prominent poet of American literature. His lyrical poems are saturated with philosophic vision of a human life. The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost expresses the uncertainty and finality of choice. The poem is rich with symbolism, which is open for interpretation of the reader. The aim of this essay is to evaluate this poem through poetic analysis, and reveal its message.
2. Kennedy and Dana (2010) discussed the symbolism of this poem in their book. The following analysis is based on Frost’s poem, presented in their book. Evaluation of any poem seems to be impossible without the analysis of its sound devices and figures of speech. The analysis helps to understand the message of the poem and realize the author’s vision of the world. The poem “The Road Not Taken” gives an opportunity to deepen into the main theme: the uncertain human nature and problem of choice.
2.1. One may note that the poem’s rhythm and structure provide clues to the overall meaning. First of all, it is necessary to understand the rhyme of the poem. Each of four stanzas of “The Road Not Taken” consists of five lines (the scheme is ABAAB). Lines have four syllables (iambic tetrameter). The rhyme is strict; however, the last line is an exception: “And that has made all the difference” (Frost, 20). In the word “difference”, the stress is on “-ence”.
The poem’s rhyme emphasizes on the words that create the message; thus, one should pay attention to the following sound devices. For example, in the first stanza, assonance (“wood”, “stood”, “looked”, “could”; “both”, “roads”) gives an opportunity to catch the following information, concentrated in these words: a person stood in the wood, looked on the both roads, and considers which road to chose, realizing that it is a quite difficult task (Frost, 1, 2, 3, 4).
In the same time, the first line “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” deepens a reader into the poem’s setting (Frost, 1). The whole poem is not a situation but person’s reflection of the setting: there are two roads, and only one of them can be chosen, and it does not matter whether it will be right or not. The euphony facilitates the process of absorbing into the poem, and allows to experience with the narrator the problem of choice.
The figures of speech contribute to the imagery of the poem. For example, the epithets “just”, “fair”, “grassy”, describe the road, chosen by the narrator (Frost, 6, 8). Such symbolic metaphor like “roads” (Frost, 1, 18) suggests an idea of human lifelines or the ways which one chooses in life to follow. Also, the symbolic epithet “less traveled” means that the road is full of challenges (Frost, 19). All the people encounter this dilemma.
2.2. The title of the poem focuses the reader’s attention on the road that is not taken by a person. Without gain, there is no loss. The narrator wants to show that life does not have a right path: there is only other path and chosen one. It is evident, that the poem has a philosophical view on a human choice in life.
Symbolism of the poem, expressed by the road-metaphor and other elements, contributes to Frost’s perception of the world: a human being may choose only one road to follow; for this reason, decision can be a difficult process, because everyone realizes that one day, one may regret of the choice made. The roads “equally lay” mean people are free to make a choice (Frost, 11).
Also, there is an irony that can be seen in the following lines: “I shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence” (Frost, 16, 17). The narrator anticipates the wrongness of the decision in his future, and realizes that betrayal of the moment of decision is inevitable. Once, he will sigh with remorse, and recollect these roads in the wood; nevertheless, sometimes, people can not change the way chosen.
The identity of the narrator is more or less predictable. In the poem, Frost shows his uncertainty in the fork of life. He believes that one should choose one of the roads, but nobody knows for sure whether this choice will be right or not. A reader sees himself in the poem: everyone can be uncertain in making a choice.
For this reason, the mood of the poem is quite sad that can be seen in the following lines: “And sorry I could not travel both”, “Oh, I kept the first for another day!”, “I shall be telling this with a sigh”, “And that has made all the difference”, etc. (Frost, 2, 13, 16, 20). Such words like “sorry”, “sigh”, “difference”, “another day” contribute to the mood of the poem.
3. The significance of the poem lies in its subject matter and theme: human uncertainty in the choice. Frost shows a reader only one of view on this problem; most people can not but agree with the main point. Human experience suggests that there are wrong ways in life, but the poem’s author stresses that one is free which way to follow.
The wrongness of the chosen road will be obvious only in the future; and this he transmits through sad irony. Figures of speech and overall melodic harmony of the poem makes it a unique diamond in American literature. Moreover, it is a thought provoking, psychological and philosophical poem that raises one of the most essential human problems: problem of choice in life.
4. The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost remains a valuable heritage of the world literature. Reading this poem, one may realize the problematic and uncertain character of human choice in the fork of life. The author looks at this problem through philosophical and psychological point of view that makes the poem symbolic and significant.
Kennedy, Joe, and Dana Gioia . Literature: an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 6th ed. Harlow, UK: Longman, 2010. Print.
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1. Robert Frost is the prominent poet of American literature. His lyrical poems are saturated with philosophic vision of a human life. The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert […]