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The Road Not Taken

By dudutong Jan 07, 2014 1526 Words

A Brief Analysis of the road not taken
By Robert Frost
浅析《未选择的路》
罗伯特·弗洛斯特

He Ming 何 明
Student Number: 20084249

Course Paper
Submitted in partial fulfillment
Of the requirements for the Literature Course
The School of Power Engineering
Chongqing University
December 2009

Abstract

The Road Not Taken is one of Frost’s most well-known poems so that almost each American knows it. It is set in a rural natural environment where always inspire the speaker to think of life. It is based on a metaphor in which the journey through life is compared to a journey on a road. And the speaker of the poem has to choose one path instead of another. Even though the two paths look equally attractive, the speaker knows that his choice at this moment may have a significant influence on his future. He does make a decision, hoping that he may be able to visit this place again, yet realizing that such an opportunity is impossible. He imagines himself in the future telling the story of his life, and claiming that his decision to take the road less traveled by, the road few other people have taken, has made all the difference.” This thesis intends to explore Frost’s own view of life. He told us that human beings are so weak when compared with nature and the destiny. Though human beings have made great progress in the past several centuries, there will forever exist something that is far beyond their control. For human, it is unable to do anything useful when he is in conflict with the impersonal force. And it’s also unable to control his own destiny; on the contrary, his fate and destiny are in the charge of something mysterious beyond him. In this sense, life is a tragedy to human. So it could be said that Frost conveyed his sense of tragedy common to human through this simple but beautiful poem.

Key words: life, road, miserable, popular, human beings, rural natural environment

1.Introduction
As is well known to people, Robert Frost is one of the most famous national poets of America. Though contemporary with modernists like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, Robert Frost is often regarded as a traditional poet of nature. He rejected the revolutionary poetic principles of his contemporary. On the contrary, he chose “the old- fashioned way to be new and urged poets to use the idioms of spoken English and, when possible, to rely on commonplace and even rustic imagery. And he saw nature as a storehouse of analogy and symbol. However, unlike other poets of nature, he depicted nature as something in constant conflicts with human beings and bring a deep sense of uncertainty and even tragedy to them. Simple as they seem, his poems are often profound in meaning between the lines. Most of his poems are characterized with an unusual sense of tragedy and reflect weakness of human beings in the face of vast, impersonal force. Additionally, the poem reflects Frost’s own personal tragedy and his miserable, sorrowful inner feelings exactly. When it comes to this, his personal life experience has to be taken into consideration. Famous and popular as he became, but he suffer a lot during all his life. He lost his father as a young boy, and he was bereaved of his beloved wife in his middle age. What is worse, all of his children ended up dying young or suffering from mental disease. For him, life seemed to keep playing tricks on him and made his life miserable. As a result, many poems composed by him, not only this one, are featured with an exotic sense of tragic beauty.

2. Analysis
In this poem, the speaker, a traveler in the wood faced with the choice of two roads. The roads bear two connotations: the material roads and the roads of life. Now, let me give some specific analysis. 2.1 See over one road

In part one, the speaker faced with two roads in the autumnal wood and feel puzzled over which one to choose. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood”, He stood there for a long time and mused on one of them, which was taken by many people. Unfortunately, he was unable to find out which place the,road would take him to, for it is far beyond his ability to know where the road would lead. However, he must choose to take. 2.2. The other one

In part two, he stepped on the other road, “Then took the other, as just as fair”, It was grassy and not taken. His choice would affect every other subsequent choice, and there was no turning back. From his choice for the less trodden road, it could be concluded that he did not like to follow the steps of other people, he wanted his own life choired by himself. 2.3 Helpless

In part three, he decided to choose the less traveled one, but he was aware that he could never have a chance to return to the first road. “I doubted if I should never come back” showed he is helpless. 2.4 Chose the less traveled road

In part four, “I shall be telling this with a sign”, he articulated why he chose the less traveled road, for he expected his life to be unusual and different. But there was no way to foretell the consequences of his choice. All in all, for the speaker, the road of life was accident and mystical, and his very choice was crucial in determining the consequences of his life. The ordinary people follow other’s choice, while the exceptional ones choose their unique roads of life.

3. Conclusion
3.1 Everyone is a traveler
Everyone is a traveler, choosing the roads to follow on the map of their continuous journey. There is never a straight path but a sole direction in which to head. It is one's past, present and the attitude with which he looks upon his future that determines the shade of the light. In any case however, this poem clearly explained Frost's belief that it is the road that one chooses that makes him the man who he is. It is always difficult to make a decision because it is impossible not to wonder about the opportunity cost, what will be missed out on. It is impossible to travel down every path. The road that will be chosen leads to the unknown, as does any choice in life. As much he may strain his eyes to see as far the road stretches, eventually it surpasses his vision and he can never see where it is going to lead. It is the way that he chooses here that sets him off on his journey and decides where he is going. It was something that was obviously not for everyone because it seemed that the majority of people took the other path. 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.

3.2 Human beings are so weak
In a word, the poem The Road Not Taken is a very beautiful and excellent poem. It is set in a rural natural environment where always inspire the speaker to think of life. It is based on a metaphor in which the journey through life is compared to a journey on a road. And the speaker of the poem has to choose one path instead of another. Even though the two paths look equally attractive, the speaker knows that his choice at this moment may have a significant influence on his future. He does make a decision, hoping that he may be able to visit this place again, yet realizing that such an opportunity is impossible. He imagines himself in the future telling the story of his life, and claiming that his decision to take the road less traveled by, the road few other people have taken, has made all the difference. This thesis intends to explore Frost’s own view of life. He told us that human beings are so weak when compared with nature and the destiny. Though human beings have made great progress in the past several centuries, there will forever exist something that is far beyond their control. For human, it is unable to do anything useful when he is in conflict with the impersonal force. And it’s also unable to control his own destiny; on the contrary, his fate and destiny are in the charge of something mysterious beyond him. In this sense, life is a tragedy to human. So it could be said that Frost conveyed his sense of tragedy common to human through this simple but beautiful poem. It is simple in form but profound in meaning. Due to limit time, this paper only explores some parts of the poem The Road Not Taken; future work can mainly and specifically explore it. Thank you!

Reference

[1] Kennedy, An introduction to poetry 1995
[2] Moeller, The road not taken 2001
[3] 韩建侠、李士侠 《枣庄师范专科学校学报 》 2002年第19期 [4]胡湛珍、吕同六、钱善行、张英伦 《外国名作家大词典》 1989

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