The Road Not Taken: Literary Analysis

1635 words - 7 pages

This has got to be among the best-known, most-often-misunderstood poems on the planet. Cursed with a perfect marriage of form and content, arresting phrase wrought from simple words, and resonant metaphor, it seems as if “The Road Not Taken” (rpt. in Thomas R. Arp and Greg Johnson, Perrine’s Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense, 10th ed. [Boston: Wadsworth, 2009] 725) gets memorized without really being read. For this it has died the cliché’s un-death of trivial immortality.
But you yourself can resurrect it by reading it—not with imagination, even, but simply with accuracy. Of the two roads the speaker says “the passing there / Had worn them really about the same.” In fact, both ...view middle of the document...

In the first stanza, the speaker describes his position. He has been out walking the woods and comes to two roads, and he stands looking as far down each one as he can see. He would like to try out both, but doubts he could to that, so therefore he continues to look down the roads for a long time trying to make his decision about which road to take.
He had looked down the first one “to where it bent in the undergrowth,” and in the second stanza, he reports that he decided to take the other path, because it seemed to have less traffic than the first. But then he goes on to say that they actually were very similarly worn. The second one that he took seems less traveled, but as he thinks about it, he realizes that they were “really about the same.” Not exactly that same but only “about the same.”
The third stanza continues with the cogitation about the possible differences between the two roads. He had noticed that the leaves were both fresh fallen on them both and had not been walked on, but then again claims that maybe he would come back and also walk the first one sometime, but he doubted he would be able to, because in life one thing leads to another and time is short.
The fourth stanza holds the key to the trickiness of the poem:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Those who interpret this poem as suggesting non-conformity take the word “difference” to be a positive difference. But there is nothing in the poem that suggests that this difference signals a positive outcome. The speaker could not offer such information, because he has not lived the “difference” yet. The other word that leads non-discerning readers astray is the word “sigh.” By taking “difference” to mean a positive difference, they think that the sigh is one of nostalgic relief; however, a sigh can also mean regret. There is the “oh, dear” kind of sigh, but also the “what a relief” kind of sigh. Which one is it? We do not know. If it is the relief sigh, then the difference means the speaker is glad he took the road he did; if it is the regret sigh, then the difference would not be good, and the speaker would be sighing in regret. But the plain fact is we do not know what that sigh is. Again, the speaker of the poem does not even know the nature of that sigh, because that sigh and his evaluation of the difference his choice will make are still in the future. It is a truism that any choice we make is going to make “all the difference” in how our future turns out.
Ironic as it is, this is also a poem infused with the anticipation of remorse. Its title is not “The Road Less Traveled” but “The Road Not Taken.” Even as he makes a choice (a choice he is forced to make if he does not want to stand forever in the woods, one for which he has no real guide or definitive basis for decision-making), the speaker knows that he...

Other Papers Like The Road Not Taken: Literary Analysis

The Road Not Taken Essay

760 words - 4 pages The Road Not Taken “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (1) is the first line in the poem by Robert Frost. This poem consists of four stanzas and each stanza has five lines. His poem is a reflection of what we do every day and that is making decisions. In this poem, the reader takes us with him as he must make a choice in his life. He looks towards both roads and see that they are equally the same. He chooses one and says he will take the

The Road Not Taken Essay

935 words - 4 pages of the original message that Robert Frost had intended to convey, his poem, \"The Road Not Taken\", has left its readers with many different interpretations. It is in my own belief and interpretation that this poem demonstrates Frosts belief that it is the road that one chooses that makes him the man who he is. \"And sorry I could not travel both...\" It is always difficult to make a decision because it is impossible not to wonder about the

The Other Road Not Taken

1136 words - 5 pages THE OTHER ROAD: THE ROAD NOT TAKEN Barbara Smith ENG 102 Professor Downie February 15, 2012 Edited On: March 7, 2012 The Other Road Not Taken Outline Thesis: In the following paper, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”, will be broken up to show the themes, settings, and symbolism. I. Introduction II. Themes A. Choice B. Dreams, Hopes and Plans C. Man and the Natural World D. Exploration III. Settings

Frost's "The Road Not Taken"

930 words - 4 pages outcome of embarking a journey that is less traveled by. On August 23, 1953, in the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, however, Frost claimed that this poem was dedicated to a friend who had gone off to war. A friend, who whichever road he took would regret not taking the other. Through assessing the tone of the poem, and an especially careful look into some key contents of The Road Not Taken, this essay analyzes the clues in which Frost reveals his

The Road Not Taken Analaysis

617 words - 3 pages Life is full of decisions waiting to be made. Whether that decision is choosing what color socks to wear or deciding what career to pursue, it will affect our life in one way or another. The poem, "The Road Not Taken" tells a story of a man who reaches a fork in the road and must choose which path to take, each path different from the other. In this poem, Robert Frost contends that every decision we make, no matter how insignificant it may seem

“the Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

1001 words - 5 pages “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost September 13, 2013 In a person's life many decisions have to be made; the decisions that we make will impact the rest of our lives.   Robert Frost brings such a decision to us in his poem, “The Road Not Taken”. In this paper, I will explain why this poem captured my interest, using terms and concepts from the text, describing one of the analytical approaches, using details from the text to support my

The Road Not Taken Poetry Essay

775 words - 4 pages Poetry Essay COURSE # and TITLE ENGL 102: Literature and Composition SEMESTER OF ENROLLMENT Spring B 2011 WRITING STYLE USED Turabian Thesis “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is a lyrical poem in which the emotion, symbolism, and certain rhythmic patterns are used to emphasize the thematics of the poem and the message the speaker is trying to deliver by writing it. Outline I. Introduction a. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

960 words - 4 pages The “Road Not Taken” is a poem written by Robert Frost. This poem written in iambic tetrameter is about the speaker being at a junction of two roads and having to choose which one to follow; it is a metaphor for making choices in life and the different paths that are offered to us during our lifetime. The main theme of the poem is binary nature and is reflected by both its form and content. However, I argue that a close analysis of the

Road Not Taken & Worn Path

1708 words - 7 pages Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”, Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path”, focuses on the theme “Journey”. While the two literary works share a similar theme the point of view is different. Each story demonstrates a particular journey through which life can evolve. It seems the underlying story is as a person progresses through life there will always be various trials and tribulations that will seek to derail him or her. The key and historical value is

"The Road Not Taken" And Other Poems By Robert Frost

2196 words - 9 pages "The Road Not Taken" and Other Poems by Robert Frost"Robert Frost, born March 26, 1874" (Robert Frost), is considered by most to be "one of America is leading 20th century poets" (Frost 15). Some of his most famous work includes The Road Not Taken, Design, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. "Frost won an unprecedented number of literary, academic, and public honors" (http://encarta.msn.com) because he allows all readers from all different

Interpretation on Robert Frost’s the Road Not Taken

730 words - 3 pages Interpretation on Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken by Endah Wahyuni Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken seems to represent indecision. It tells us about a travelers who is standing in front of two different roads that basically look the same. He doesn’t know where each of the roads leads to, but he should make a choice whether he would take the first road or the other in order to move forward. Of course the roads here are just a symbol. It

Related Essays

The Road Not Taken Essay

1034 words - 5 pages The Road Not Taken The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, is a poem which when read the first time, seems very simplistic and straightforward. That is in fact not true, by any means. The poem is not only about choices and the outcomes of these choices, but it is also about the decisions we, as humans, are required to make in life and the inability to know what could have been. The poem begins with the line: “Two

The Road Not Taken Essay 2103 Words

2103 words - 9 pages ad not takenThe Road Not Taken” → Complete Text Two roads diverged in a yellow wood And 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; 5  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, 10  And both

The Road Not Taken Essay 962 Words

962 words - 4 pages Outline Thesis: In “The Road Not Taken”, Robert Frost uses imagery, metaphors, and the theme to tell the reader what has made the difference. I. Frost uses imagery to show the reader how decisions change fate. A. Visual imagery was used to show how bright his future is. B. Without Frost using imagery, the reader would not have understood why the decision was so important. II. The poem was an extended metaphor. A. The description of

The Road Not Taken Essay 971 Words

971 words - 4 pages the example of his choice. Somewhere in the back of his mind he will think back on the image of yellow woods and two paths. In addition to the irony, the title of this poem is filled with remorse. The title is not “The Road Less Traveled” but it is, “The Road Not Taken”. The speaker is forced to figure out which road is the better choice. He either has to choose or stand at the fork forever. There is no guide or map to the road to base his