Dr. Steve Schessler
March 8 2015
Analyzing Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’
“Every life is a march from innocence, through temptation, to virtue or vice.”
In the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ Robert Frost toys with the ideas of innocence and experience that one can relate to in his or her own life by the choices they have to make in their day to day lives. Like his other works that explore fundamental questions of existence, depicting the loneliness of an individual in an indifferent universe, the poem ‘The road not taken’ explores a man’s uncertainty to choose from two paths that lay before him. In the following article I shall present a close analysis of Frost’s poem and how it can relate to one’s life.
Most people have come across a time where they have to make a decision between two figurative roads. Not sure where to go and unaided, they might choose the road that would take them to the place where they want to go or the road that takes us somewhere new, but either way the path we choose takes us to where we are now. In life situations where we have to choose from different metaphorical paths such as which college to join, which house to buy, etc. there exists a road we took that got us where we are and a metaphorical road not taken. While making such decisions we come across the big question of whether to take the well beaten path or be non-conformists and take the less travelled route. Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is all about these quandaries present in every person’s life.
The poem is very simply articulated with the material is arranged in 4 quintains with a rhythm scheme of ABAAB in each quintain.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
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 undergrowth; In a literal manner the first paragraph explains the poet’s situation where the poet while travelling through a yellowwood forest, encounters two roads and expresses sorrow at the inability to travel both of them. The poet then stands debating on which road to take as he looks closely at one of the roads that bent in the undergrowth. Metaphorically, just as the yellowwood forests are found rarely, the poet encounters a rare situation with only two possible paths that he can take. Like an inexperienced person making a choice between two career options that warrants a close examination of both options, Frost stands for long inspecting one of the roads or one of his choices.
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
The poet then, inexperienced starts walking on the other road, that according to the poem looked the same but was grassy , meaning it wasn’t chosen by many and wanted wear and held better claim. However while travelling the road, he ponders that it was worn the same. The situation can be turned into a present day situation in the same way as the person after analyzing his career options starts working and realizes that the option that he chose for it wasn’t very sought after and held better claim was in reality just as lucrative as his other. The stanza carries various contradictions in view due to the gain of experience from innocence. The poet at first not knowing about the paths starts travelling on what appeared lucrative but then gains the understanding that it was just the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back. In the third stanza the poet still walking on…