A Critical Look at "The Road Not Taken"

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Robert Frost penned many words about love and life. The Road Not Taken demonstrates decisions in a person’s life and the decision making process. Symbolism and imagery are used to direct the reader to consider the depth and meaning of this piece of literary work.

Imagery is a prominent device used to set the tone of the poem. In the first stanza, Frost infers that it is a fall day with the “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” (Frost, 1916) describing fallen leaves on the forest floor. The fork in the road provided by the divergence of the roads allows the reader to put themselves at the foot of the path weighing each option. “To where it bent in the undergrowth” (Frost, 1916) is another example of the picture that is being set in the mind of the reader. One can imagine peering down the path as far as you could see to examine the lay of the land and obstacles that may be there. The second stanza continues to develop the scene as if one were starting down the path observing what was underfoot, “Because it was grassy and wanted wear;” (Frost, 1916).

Symbolism is the main theme of the poem. Robert Frost uses a walk in the woods, to describe life’s journey. As the “Two roads diverged” (Frost, 1916) one is prompted to anticipate a decision is to be made, which path should be taken, which way to go. As it is suggested that the season is autumn by the yellow leaves fallen on the ground, this may also indicate that the subject is in that season of life. “And sorry I could not travel both / And be one traveler, long I stood”; here the traveller wishes he didn’t have to make the decision. “Oh, I kept the first for another day! / Yet knowing how way leads on to way, / I doubted if I should ever come back.” This shows the author knows that he can only choose one, and may never have the opportunity to experience the other because time will go by and life goes on and it just won’t happen. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less...
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