April 9, 2012
Life is a Journey
Life is a journey that is made up of a series of choices. These choices are made consciously or unconsciously, sometimes with much thought and sometimes with no thought at all. A person my not acknowledge the journey, but a journey it is none the less. To discover the common theme that life is a journey, the archetypal approach will be applied to “The Road Not Taken” and “Used to Live Here Once”. The literary elements that further this theme are figurative language, symbolism and plot. The archetypal framework makes up views and understandings that are universal. This framework does not reflect just one individual’s feelings and emotions; it reflects the feelings and emotions of society. These feelings and emotions arise from direct experience and inherited knowledge of shared experiences of our ancestors. Carl Jung coined the term collective unconsciousness to describe this societal state of unconsciousness and impartation (as cited in Clugston, 2010). Since the term collective means a group or society and he believed that society has an unconscious just like the individual, he believed that some things are just understood universally. The fact that life is a journey is one of these universal views. It is understood that we are born, we live and we die. We journey through life from birth to death. According to Northrop Frye, there are extremities of this quest we call a journey. On a continuum, they range from a totally desirable end to a totally undesirable destination. Within this archetypal framework there is a constant tension in which insights are discovered, choices have to be made and an action needs to be taken (as cited in Clugston, 2010). The choices of various actions men make throughout the journey determine life’s ultimate outcomes. In the poem the author describes a once in a lifetime decision that will determine the direction of his life. The tension rises when the traveler arrives at a fork in the road and must decide which road to take. Frost speaks of this dilemma in his poem. He knows both paths cannot be traveled and he has to choose one. We are told he stood long trying to decide, weighing his options. This line, “And looked down one as far as I could / To where it bent in the undergrowth” (as cited in Clugston, 2010) figuratively expresses the concept of trying to come to a decision. The undergrowth represents all the extraneous factors crowding around each decision, the whys, the what ifs, the various effects of and on other things and other people and considerations of each possible outcome. You can visualize the person standing at the fork, pondering, straining to look down each road as far as he can, trying to find a hint of what is to come. In the poem, it seems that the path more traveled is the common, easier one; the path of least resistance. The less traveled one is unknown, more challenging, and difficult but far more rewarding. We know this because at the end of the poem, the author indicates that the path he chose was indeed more fulfilling. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference
(as cited in Clugston, 2010).
Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”, is an example constructive human quest. This journey is linear and is rich with symbolism and figurative language. In first line of the poem, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (as cited in Clugston, 2010), the word yellow is symbolic for decay. The poet is telling us he has reached a point of stagnation in his life. He is at a crossroads and he must choose a new direction. This will require change, but change he must, otherwise his life will remain stagnant. In line eight, “Because it was grassy” and line eleven, “And both that morning equally lay” (as cited in Clugston, 2010), the word grassy symbolizes a fresh path and morning is symbolic of new beginnings. So the...