Elements In “The Road Not Taken”
In the poem “The Road Not Taken”, author Robert Frost uses the simple image of a road to represent a person’s journey through life. A well-established poet, Frost does a proficient job of transforming a seemingly common road to one of great importance, which along the way helps one identify who they really are. This poem is one of self-discovery. Frost incorporates strong elements of poetry such as theme, symbolism, rhyme scheme, diction, imagery, and tone to help create one of his most well known pieces about the human experience.
The main theme of the poem that Frost attempts to convey is how important the decisions that one makes can be, and how they affect one’s future.
In lines 2-3, he expresses the emotions of doubt and confusion by saying, “And sorry I could not travel/ And be one traveler, long I stood”, which explains how the speaker contemplated their decision of which road to take. In the closing, line 20 of the poem further reestablishes the theme when it states, “that has made all the difference”, meaning that making the decision of which road to take for themselves is the important key for a successful future. Frost helps to express this theme by using symbolism to portray a road as one’s journey of life. Using symbolism, Frost suggests that the speaker of this poem is taking the harder of the two roads presented before them, because the road the speaker chooses, “leaves no step had trodden black” (12). This scenario is one that is very common throughout one’s life, whether or not to take the more common easy path, or the more challenging one.
Another aspect of the poem that is well crafted, and helps it flow smoothly to the reader is its repetitive rhyme scheme that uses the same structure for each stanza.
The poem is comprised of four stanzas, each consisting of five lines. Within the stanzas the first, third, and fourth lines rhyme, leaving the second and fifth with a rhyme of their own. The poem is also written as a first-person narrative, which makes it clearer for the reader to follow. This format and style shows an obvious scheme with organization done by Frost. Along with the order of the poem, Frost makes good use of diction to help express a feeling of seriousness by using more scholarly words. Instead of simply stating that one of the roads was less worn, he specifies that it was not “trodden”.
Frost also gives a more vivid description of the road by describing how it “diverged”, rather than saying that it split or separated. Through the choice of articulate diction, this element helps Frost better describe the images of the poem.
Frost clearly uses these strong images to help portray the setting of the poem. The woods that surround the roads are described as “a yellow wood”. The main path was “bent in the undergrowth” (5); while the path that the speaker chose was still “grassy” from not being traveled on. At the end of the poem the speaker is looking back on the decision of which road they chose, and is said to be “telling this with a sigh” (16), to help make the ending more dramatic, while adding to its tone.
This also expresses how the speaker realizes their own limitations as a human, because there is no way that one can go back in time and see how life could be different had they chosen the other road. The serious tone of the poem helps to reinforce the theme of how important choices are, and that people make choices that affect their lives everyday.
Frost creatively uses these elements of poetry to show how this simple scene in nature can symbolize so much to a person. These two paths that he presents can be anyone, at any point in their life, which helps to give the poem a personal quality the reader can identify with. Anyone can recognize a specific time in their life when they have been forced to make a decision that could change their life. Therefore, they can place themselves near the edge of the woods at the beginning of .