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Essay on "The Road Not Taken"

The poem "The Road Not Taken" written by Robert Frost from the first glance seems to be very simple in meaning and complicated and unusual in form. Though about the form the first impression remains true, but the meaning after thorough investigation appears not that ordinary.

The poem consists of four stanzas with five lines each. The rhyme scheme can be describes as ABAAB and the rhymes are very strict and sharp with the only exception of the word “difference” in the last line.

Antithesis is said to be one of the main literary device of this poem. When the traveler finds himself on the fork of the road, he wishes he could travel both of them. This can be referred to as non possibility and the traveler realized that and immediately rejected the idea. The slight contradiction can be also observed in the second stanza when one road is described as grassy and wanting wear, and soon after that the traveler claims that two roads are worn almost in the same manner.

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As I have already mentioned there are four stanzas in the poem. The first stanza described the whole situation in which the traveler has found himself. He was just walking in the woods, probably looking for some inspiration or just wanted to alienate himself and think about life and he sees a fork and he has to make the choice which road to take.

When people have to make the choice in their lives, they try to evaluate everything from the practical standpoint. They think that they can predict everything and find the better solution for their problems. In the poem “The Road Not Taken” it is vividly depicted that actually there is no choice and it does not really matter what choice people are making, as it is impossible to predict what will happen with them in the future. 

The only thing they can do in such situation is to make the choice and take the whole responsibility for it, no matter what. We are not living in the two-dimensional world, but in three-dimensional, and therefore in reality there is no choice and making the choice do not establish the particular pattern of the person’s life. The end for all people is the same- we will all die, and the thing that matter and the thing that people can do on their way to death- is to choose the path of their heart, which cannot be described objectively.

In the second stanza we can observe the decision making process of the traveler, as he chooses the other path that was less traveled, even though the uncertainty is showing through his choice, as then he notices that roads were worn almost the same. It is always like that- once the person has made the choice, he or she often turns and back and hundred times revaluates the correctness of it, which is the waste of time and energy. When we are not sure in ourselves, we are burning ourselves from inside and are not able to live full happy and responsible lives.

The third stanza continues the road description, or to be more accurate- the description of both of them. The traveler notices that the leaves were fresh fallen on both roads and not been walked on, and he suggest that he better comes back and take the first road another time. The traveler is not sure whether he would be able to accomplish this desire, as he realizes that life is not that long and he might not be able to, as the decision he made would obviously lead to another choices and events.

The fourth stanza reveals to the readers that the poem is not that simple, as thought from the first glance. I think that too key words in this stanza are “sigh” and “difference”. Why people are sighing? Why was the traveler sighing? I suggest that it could be the nostalgic relief due to the fact that he did really understood that it made no difference the choice he made and the road he had chosen. It could be calm, confident, a bit tires and philosophical sighing with the complete realization and acceptation of destiny and of the new turn of life that this road would bring. The traveler could have the made the choice of his heart and finally got rid of any doubts and regrets.

But there can be the other interpretation of sighing, as it could also mean the regret. When the person is regretting about something, it is the sign that he does not appreciate and approve the choice he had made. He also believes that the alternative he left is better, though it is obviously just his assumptions that are based on his specific subjective experiences about the matter. Therefore, it appears that the person regrets about the alternative that he is not aware of. So, the traveler could be either happy to take the chosen road or disappointed. If he is disappointed then why he not comes back and chooses the other he considers better? If there is still no difference, why not choose the road that could probably make you happy? If neither of the roads brings satisfaction and joy, why not just turn back and march not turning around searching for better alternatives?

This archetypal dilemma is the greatest attraction of the poem “The Road Not Taken”. It is so many-sided and controversial, that each person can find his own interpretation based on his personal experiences. To this extent the poem can be called universal, as it fits all audiences.

The author uses rather ordinary metaphors for the depiction of life, decisions and crises, introduced with woods, roads and fork. The fork can be also the symbol fate and free will, as people are free to choose whatever they want, though they cannot know in advance the true alternatives they were choosing from, as well as the future consequences of their choice. And therefore, here, at the point where the choice is very much determined with chance, it is impossible to make the choice that is either bad or good. There is no duality left. It is just the choice of the person, his personal alternative that cannot be evaluated according to any known scheme.

The poem is not aiming to advise the reader how to make a choice or what road is better being taken. It is more concerned with the question where is this road going and what will happen in future. The traveler does not believe in himself, he does not believe in his future, but he still tries to give an example by indicating what road to take. He assumes that the road that is less traveled is better, because he probably always wanted to be special in life, but never succeeded in this.

In the conclusion I would like to summarize that the poem “The Road Not Taken” is pierced with sorrow and remorse. The title of the poem says not about the road the traveler had taken, but about the alternative road he had left behind. The traveler seems overwhelmed with the travelers nescience about what is in his future and uncertainty in his choice. The traveler had not taken the responsibility for the made choice and did not leave everything behind, he is still living in the past, he is still living in illusions. And it is not what the reality is constituted from. The reality is constituted from “here” and “now”, and there is no yesterday, and there is no tomorrow… 

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