Critical Analysis of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"

Robert frost wrote an ambiguous poem that gives the reader time to meditate about the choices in life, whether to follow the mass or to go alone. ‘The Road Not Taken’ poem highlights those moments in life when a decision has to made. It asks the question which way will you go? Robert brings out the aspect of ambiguity in his poem when he asks the question of free will versus the act of determination. He asks if the speaker in the poem makes a conscious decision to follow a certain road that is off the beaten track or he does so only because he doesn’t fancy the road with bend in mean that external factors are the ones that make the decision for him. In his poem frost made fun at his friend Edward Thomas, who was an English-welsh poet. Thomas would always regret for not having taking a different path any time they were with frost walking in England. Thomas regretted not taking a road that might have given him the better results of which he doesn’t know.

      ‘The Road Not Taken’ is concerned with what did not happen. He showed that the person in the poem always took the path with least resistance anytime he was faced with an important conscious decision to make. At the end, Frost ends his poem in an emotional tone leaving the reader to make up their own mind about it. The literal meaning of the ‘The Road Not Taken’ is that it tells us a story of a man who reaches a fork in the road and arbitrarily selects one and leaves the other.

               Frost’s poem has a main message. He shows that in life we are presented with choices which when taken a particular choice we must decide. With is view that choice is like a fork in a path, it means clearly that we must take one direction or another but not the two of them.  this leaves the reader in a dilemma. The reader is left wondering which road will have the best opportunities though there is nothing one can do other than choose one road and continue life’s journey. Looking at his poem, frost does not clearly show us the road he took if its good. The poem aims at the road taken as well as the road not taken. The speaker doesn’t know what future holds for him, …

        The sense of this poem is kept alive by the use of enjambments. Metaphors such as; ‘the road is life, and it diverges, that is, splits apart-folks. Make the poem interesting while they jog the mind of the reader.

       Frost sets a reflective, thoughtful mood of the poem. The reader is left wondering in a turning point. Frost presents a clear life situation – take one path or the other and go ahead with life. Life is never that simple and it is always full of uncertainties. You take a low road and I take the higher choice, which is the best? The tone of the poem is meditative. A man should weigh two options, look at the advantages and disadvantages of each choice and make a choice. The tone is also dramatic, playful and whimsical. this sound comic since its more dramatic that the merits of the situation, the choice to be taken is arguably important. Whichever road taken, it seems the traveler will enjoy a presumably a walk full of lovely fall of foliage.

       Frost uses poetic devices such as metaphor and rhythm in his poem. These aspects are in the poem as a structure. ‘The Road Not Taken’ has a figurative meaning. Frost portrays life as a path that we walk towards an undefined destination. He reaches for a fork on the road. In life we must take one path or the other. The way each road is described shows that we can not know where the life-changing decision we make can lead us. The decision on which way to go is a toss-up game sine all the chances present themselves equally.  According to the metaphor used, the speaker is in two minds, he wonders which road to take, since life has given him two choices which are valid although the outcomes are different. The speaker wants to take both choices but it is practically impossible.

          ‘The Road Not Taken’ has symbolism throughout. The road to be travelled itself symbolizes the life journey. The forking off of the road symbolizes the choices which have to be taken in life. He uses yellow color in his poem to describe the forest. The yellow color symbolizes something in-between and unsure of itself.

The black color here is used to emphasize that, from the appearance of both roads, they were untraveled. The poet is the first one to encounter this dilemma of roads that have never been tarnished by the feet of the previous travelers. The point of view of this poem is that, for travelers who walks along a certain path may encounter a fork on the road which may require them to pause their journey and meditate on which path to follow.

       From this poem, the reader hardly witnesses a difference between these two roads. Frost describes the first road as bending into the undergrowth which he describes the second one as ‘just as fair’ though it seemed ‘grassy and wanted wear’. This shows that the second road is not travelled so much and has overgrown, but then he writes;

From these lines, it is evident that the two roads are equalized again. But finally, in his last stanza he writes;

With this the reader is left wondering how frost knew he took the less travelled road. The writer may have left this ambiguity so that the reader would not dwell on the condition of the road so much but instead place the focus on the fact that he chose a road which brought change in his whole life.

                                                                      Work Cited

Baym, Nina, et. al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 5th edition. Vol. II. New York: Norton, 1998.

Frost, Robert. The road not taken. Shamrock Press, 1916.

Frost, Robert. The road not taken: A selection of Robert Frost’s poems. Macmillan, 2002.

Kates, Robert W. “The human environment: The road not taken, the road still beckoning.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 77.4 (1987): 525-534.