Analysis of the Road Not Taken
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Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is a symbolic poem of the complications people must face in the course of their lives. Although it is not difficult to understand the meaning of the poem through its title, it is however hard to interpret what the author means when he describes the roads. Throughout the poem, the two roads appear similar at times and different at others. As the poem unfolds itself, the reader becomes aware of the the use of metaphors, diction, verb tenses, and title.
One Critic John Ogilvie states that “The two roads that ‘diverged in a yellow wood’ represent a critical choice between two ways of life. The poet takes ‘the one less traveled by,’the lonelier road, which, we can presume, leads deeper into the wood. The dark woods, though they hold a salutary privacy, impose a stern isolation, an isolation endured not without cost”(226). Frost first uses metaphor to show that the speaker’s choice impact his life. Metaphor is “an imaginative comparison between two literally unlike things” (Literary vocabulary poetry IV). At the very beginning of the poem, Frost uses metaphor in the line “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (1). This line compares a decision to two diverging roads. To travelers, two diverging roads obviously mean this is the time to make a decision, choose one or another. Travelers who face two diverging roads are just like the people in their lives who face a fork in the road, which also means a decision making time. Does the decision make a difference to the speaker in the poem? Yes. At the very end of the poem, the speaker says “and that has made all the different” (20). This quote tells us that the road the speaker chose, which also means the decision the speaker made, has made differences in his life, showing that his choice impacts his life.
Frost also uses verb tenses to prove that people’s choice will impact their lives. He uses past tense the whole poem but the in “I shall be telling this with a sigh” (16), which is future tense. The transition from past tense to future tense means that the speaker will look back to the decision he made. There are two possibilities for looking back at something: you are proud of something, or you are regretful of something. The meaningful word-“sigh” in this quote suggests the regret of the speaker. So the future tense in this poem shows that the speaker will eventually look back to the decision he made because of the regret. So, he knows that his decision will impact his life in the future.
As critic David Kelly also states that “even after the intense pondering that goes on at the crossroads …things turn out differently if you go down one road than they will if you go down another” (122). Frost focuses on the title to show that people’s choice will impact their lives. The title of this poem is “The Road Not Taken.” This title directly shows that the speaker is regretful of his decision of not taking the other road. The speaker looks back at the scene that he was making the choice