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ANALYSIS:
The Road Not Taken

 

               Everyone is a traveler, choosing the roads to follow on the map of their life. There is never a straight path to reach a destination, but a sole direction in which to head. Regardless of the original message that Robert Frost had intended to convey, his poem, "The Road Not Taken", has left its readers with many interpretations. It is one's past, present, and the attitude that determines the shade of the light that we see the poem in. In any case, this poem demonstrates the speaker’s belief that the road he/she took has “made all the difference.”

               In life, it is always difficult to make decisions, because we wonder about the opportunities, cost, and consequences. The speaker illustrates this saying by he/she is sorry, because "[he/she] could not travel both [roads]…" There is a strong sense of regret before the choice is even made, and it lies in the knowledge that in one lifetime, it is impossible to travel down every path. In an attempt to make a decision, the traveler "looks down one as far as [he/ she] could". The speaker strains their eyes to see as far the road stretches, but eventually it surpasses his/her vision when the road “[bends] in the undergrowth.”

               “Then took the other, just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim." What made it have the better claim is that "it was grassy and wanted wear," meaning this road will require more perseverance.  It was something that was obviously not for everyone because it seemed that the majority of people took the other path. Therefore, he calls it "the road less travelled by." The fact that the traveler took this path over the more popular, secure one, indicates the type of personality they have. The speaker does not follow convention, but does what is unique and different.

               The leaves had covered the ground on both roads, and since the time they had fallen, “…no step had trodden black.” This image, like the entire poem, relates to life. Each time a person comes to the point where they have to make a choice, it is new to them, and they tend to feel as though no one else had ever been there either. The speaker, then, realizes that what is chosen now will affect every other choice hereafter. The traveller, "knowing how way leads on to way,” has doubts about their judgment, and "doubted if [he/she] should ever come back."

               Once again at the end of the poem, the regret hangs over the traveler. The speaker realizes that at the end of his/her life, "somewhere ages and ages hence", he/she will have regrets about having never gone back and traveling down the other road. Yet, they remain proud of their decision and recognize the path they chose made their life turn out the way it did. "I took the road less traveled by and that had made all the difference." To this individual, what was most important and what made the difference, is that they did what he/she wanted, even if it meant taking the road less traveled.

               “The Road Not Taken” is composed of 4 stanzas, each containing 5 lines. The first 4 lines of each stanza finish with an end rhyme. The poem’s rhyme scheme is ABABC DEDEF GHGHI JKJKL. Also, the poem contains numerous examples of repetition. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” is contained in both the first and last stanzas.  After reading the poem, one is able to see the two roads are symbols for the different choices we are given. Whether the choice is miniscule or life changing, two things are certain. There are always alternatives and consequences. Finally, the poem as a whole, is an allegory about life. In its simplistic and understandable lines, it summarizes what people face. We are confronted with different challenges and choices. Often, we are uncertainty of ourselves, and in the end, these choices contribute to who we are.

               There are many equally valid meanings to this poem and Robert Frost may have intended this. He may have been trying to achieve a universal understanding. There is simply a narrator who makes a decision in his life that had changed the direction of his life from what it may have otherwise been. It allows all readers from all different experiences to relate to the poem.

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