Essay, Research Paper
In Youth (and beauty) Wisdom is Rare
Use of Symbolism in ?The Road Not Taken?
By Robert Frost
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost uses symbolism to demonstrate that everyone is a traveler who chooses the road to follow on his or her journey in life. Our decisions, based on personal experiences, reflect the wisdom gained in life and by starting the poem with “Two roads diverge in a yellow wood,? Frost suggests a traveler in the autumn of his life. This is further implied by the thoughtful contemplation of his decision,? long I stood and looked down one as far as I could?, which is suggestive of the maturity of age and not the impulsiveness of youth. The traveler must make a decision. When Frost closes the poem with ?I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference?, he shows a hindsight that only time can give a person.
When the speaker chooses which path to take in the woods, he also demonstrates the knowledge that the decision will change his life in unpredictable ways. The sigh in ?I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence?, does not tell us that the choice will be bad or good, only that he knows it will make a difference in his life.
The traveler has made his choice, has taken the path, and yet does not know where it will lead him. In his lines ?Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back?, one must wonder if Frost was making a very subtle reference to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said, ?one cannot step in the same river twice?. Even if a person could return to the path not taken, neither the person nor the path would have remained the same.
Maturity of thought is demonstrated again in the statement, ?Then took the other, 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 both really about the same?. This shows that the traveler knows that, when two choices seem the same, he will color one to appear better than the other will. He does this knowing his decision maybe based on wishful thinking rather than fact.
With Frosts? line, ?In leaves no step has trodden black? the traveler shows a willingness to make his decision not on the experiences of others who have walked those same paths, but on his own.
Throughout this poem Frost has shown a depth of maturity in the traveler that is displayed not only in his realization that all choices have some impact on his life, but also an acceptance that no matter how his choices turn out that they were the right ones at that time in his life.
Note: The author of the quote ?In Youth and beauty, Wisdom is rare? is unknown.