?The Road Not Taken? Essay, Research Paper
Rejoice or Regret?
Robert Frost, a poet from the early Twentieth Century, is well known not only for his style, but also for his use of symbolism throughout his works. In ?The Road Not Taken?, he depicted his theme and meaning through a four stanza poem which consisted of a set rhyme scheme (A, B, A, A, B). This poem has left its readers with many different interpretations. In naming this poem ?The Road Not Taken?, Frost left a lot of room for speculation. Does it mean for people to take the road not taken by others or does it mean that no matter which road you choose you will wonder about the road not taken?
In the first stanza, the narrator says, ?And sorry I could not travel both…?(line 2). This quote is plainly explaining how difficult is it to make a decision because it is impossible not to wonder about the opportunity cost; what the decision maker will miss out on. There is a strong sense of regret before the choice is even made and it lies in the knowledge that in one lifetime, it is impossible to change your mind and undo the results of the road you have chosen. In an attempt to make a decision, the traveler ?looks down one as far as I could.?(line 4). The road that will be chosen leads to the unknown, as does any choice in life. As much as he may strain his eyes to see as far as 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.
In the second stanza the traveler tries defend the decision he made on which road to take. ?Then took the other, just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim?(line 6-7). What made it have the better claim was that, ?it was grassy and wanted wear?(line 8). It was something that was obviously not for everyone because it seemed that the majority of people took the other path and therefore he calls it ?the road less traveled by.?(line 19). The fact that the traveler took this path over the more popular, secure one indicates the type of personality he has; one that does not want to necessarily follow the crowd but do more of what has never been done and is different.
In the third stanza, the narrator says ?And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.?(line 11-12). The leaves had covered the ground and since the time they had fallen no one had yet to pass by on this road. Perhaps the narrator writes this because each time a person comes to a point where they have to make a choice, it is new to them, somewhere they have never been and they tend to feel as though no one else had ever been there either. ?I kept the first for another day!?(line13). The desire to travel down both paths is expressed and is not unusual, but ?knowing how way leads on to way?(line 14), the speaker realizes that the decision is not just a temporary one and he ?doubted if I should ever come back.?(line 15). This is his common sense of speaking and acknowledgment that what he chooses now will affect every other choice he makes afterward. Once you have performed an act or spoken a word that shows who you are, there is no turning back; it can not be undone.
In the fourth stanza, regret seems to hang over the traveler. He realizes that at the end of his life, ?somewhere ages and ages hence?(line 17), he will have regrets about having never gone back and traveling down the roads he did not take. Yet he remains proud of his decision and he recognizes that it was this path that he chose that made him turn out the way he did. ?I took the road less traveled by and that made all the difference.?(line 19-20). To this man, what was most important and what really made the difference was that he did what he wished; even if it meant taking the road less traveled. If he hadn?t, he wouldn?t be the same man he had become. This could be Frost saying that not doing what everyone else did made all the difference in him being a great poet and not just your average person. I?m sure it is hard trying to get started being a poet and not everyone would be willing to take that risk, but Frost did and that made all the difference.
There are many equally valid meanings to this poem that Robert Frost may or may not have intended. All in all, it seems that he tried to portray the message that decision making may be hard but the right thing to do is go with what you feel no matter what everyone else is doing. Frost is trying to promote individuality by encouraging the reader to follow their heart and not someone else?s. In any case, however, this poem clearly demonstrates Frost?s belief that it is the road that one chooses that makes a person the way they are, and no matter what the outcome, they often wonder about the road not taken.
Frost, Robert. ?The Road Not Taken?. Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 3rd edition. Ed. Laurie Kizner and Stephan Mandel. NY: Harcourt Brace, 1997. 934- 935.