“The Road Not Taken”
Robert Frost, born March 26, 1874, is considered by most to be one of America’s leading 20th Century poets. Some of his most famous works include The Road Not Taken, Design, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. Frost won an unprecedented number of literary, academic, and public honors because he allows readers of different experience to relate to his poetry. Frost’s poetry is based mainly upon the life and scenery of rural New England and the language of his verse reflects the compact idiom of that region. Although he concentrates on ordinary subject matter, Frost’s emotional range is wide and deep and his poems often shift dramatically from a humorous tone to the expression of tragic experience. He uses vivid imagery, calm words, and rhythm that set a somewhat tranquil mood for every reader. He uses every aspect of the poem to play on the senses, through his creation of vivid images and varying moods. With all of these tools Frost intends to convey his own unique views as the speaker to his audience. Regardless 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. The poem is most commonly interpreted as an advertisement of individuality, but that definition is dependent on whether or not there is a road not taken in Frost’s poem. Many scholars believe that Frost was too ambivalent in his descriptions of the two roads, and have therefore challenged the existence of a less traveled road. The poem simply takes a satirical look at the uncertainty of having to make choices at all, but one might argue that it urges readers, not to forge new roads, but to take pride in the ones they have already chosen. Frost begins The Road Not Taken by creating a mental image of a traveler stopped at a fork in a path, much like a person who is trying to make a difficult decision. The road that will be chosen leads to the unknown, as does any choice made in life. In an attempt to make a decision, the traveler looks down one road as far as he or she can. “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 under growth;”
As much as he or she may strain his or her eyes to see as far as the road stretches, eventually it surpasses his or her vision and he or she can never see where it is going to lead. The speaker realizes that much like anyone making any kind of decision, their destiny cannot be seen, only the choices they can make. When the traveler finally decides, the lines: “Then took the other, just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,”
possibly describe the speaker’s innate desire to not necessarily follow the crowd. This may be because of a feeling of unhappiness that was experienced by copying the actions of those before him or her, instead of making an individual decision. The desire to travel down both paths is expressed and not unusual, but the speaker of this poem realizes that the decision is not just a temporary one and “…doubted if I should ever come back.” At the end of The Road Not Taken, regret hangs over the traveler. He or She realizes that at the end of life, “somewhere ages and ages hence”, the speaker will have regrets about having never gone back to explore the road not taken. The traveler, however, remains proud of the decision and recognizes that it was the paths chosen that made life turn out the way is has. “I took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” In this poem there is no judgment, no specificity, no moral but simply a narrator who makes a decision in their life that affects the rest of its course. At least, this is what I personally take away from the reading of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.
One of the great aspects of literature is that anyone can get just about anything they...