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The Road Not Taken Analysis Essay

Every day it is inevitable to make a choice, or better to say, many choices. Some may be of a minor importance, and the other may influence the whole life. Often it may be hard to make a decision as one may later wonder, “what would have happened, if…”. Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, first published in 1916, deals with the topic of making a choice. At first sight it seems to be quite clear, and this quasi simplicity has led to the inaccurate interpretation of the poem. This work is quite tricky and has to be analyzed thoroughly.

Frost himself said that the poem was devoted to his friend, Welsh poet Edward Thomas. During their walks Thomas was never satisfied with the paths chosen, and regretted, that if they would have picked another way, their trip would have been better. He doubted that they had made a right choice and did not miss an opportunity to see something beautiful. Frost wrote the poem to tease gently about this hesitation and curiosity of a human’s nature (“The Road Not Taken”). However, the last lines of the poem, “I took the one less travelled by, / And that has made all the difference” (19-20), often interpreted as a motto to chose a less known way in life and act differently from the majority.

In case of a more careful look at the poem, one may find many tricky moments. Firstly, it is complicated to say exactly how old the hero is. The line, “The two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (1), means that it is autumn. Autumn is a season that associates with adult ages. Therefore, it may imply that the hero is a grown-up with a lot of life experience. On the other hand, the line, “Somewhere ages and ages hence” (17), indicates that it may be only the beginning of life, and the hero hesitates to make a crucial choice. Thus, one cannot tell exactly whether these are reflections of an adult or a young person.


Secondly, the hero does not indicate precisely that the roads are different, and one is less discovered. Although, he describes the rode he chose “less travelled by”, he several times claims that they are quite equal, “the other, as just as fair”, “had worn them really about the same”, “equally lay” (10-11). Consequently, the roads are not less or more travelled, but equally unknown and lead in different directions, therefore, the hero hesitates.

Thirdly, it is hard to interpret the line, “I shall be telling this with a sigh” (16). The sigh may be both of relief and joy, and of regret and sorrow. As a matter of fact, whatever road the hero takes, the other will remain a mystery. He will never know whether the choice was right. Actually, there is no right and wrong choice, as there will be no chance to compare.

One more fact that deters the hero from making a choice is irreversibility, “Oh, I marked the first for another day! / I doubted if I should ever come back” (13-14). The hero is not a nonconformist who surely picks an untraveled road. He looks thoroughly and wishes to follow them both. Although this is impossible, as he will never be the same as he is now. After some time he may come back, but with another experience, though it is hardly possible as the road chosen will lead him to another fork, etc. So, he does not inspire to pick a less trodden ways, he wonders about possibilities not taken and events that will not happen.

To sum up, the poem deals with the issue of choice that should be made in life. There is no point to hesitate or regret, some opportunities will be taken, and some will be missed. The point is how one treats this fact – with regret or with curiosity.

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