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Discuss the significance of the title'road not taken'. would it have been more...

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suhanna | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 24, 2010 at 9:14 PM via web

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Discuss the significance of the title'road not taken'. would it have been more appropriate to  use the title'road taken'?

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 24, 2010 at 11:23 PM (Answer #1)

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Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is a lighthearted look and revisionism.  The speaker in the poem chooses one path for no real reason, since both of the paths are actually about the same.  Notice in the poem that there is no real difference between the two paths.

The speaker imagines himself in years to come, pretending there was a difference, and telling a yarn or white lie for the sake of entertainment.  He imagines himself making up a story about how he took the less-traveled path and that made all the difference. 

Therefore, since the poem deals with making up a story about the road not taken, it wouldn't make sense to call the poem "The Road Taken." 

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kc4u | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted March 24, 2010 at 9:53 PM (Answer #2)

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The title of the poem can not be the 'road taken' simply because that would radically alter the thematic treatment of the poem. It will invert the Frostian emphasis on the road not taken or a moment of choice in life where one option can be embraced only at the cost of the other.

The poem is about the junctures and the crossroads of life where the irony of choice (illusory choice) hits us. We have to choose one of the two options and whatever option may we choose, that which is abandoned or not chosen keeps staging a return as a haunting hypothetical image, suggesting unexplored possibilities of life.

Aristotle says in Poetics that while history deals with what happens, poetry deals with what may happen. It is this hypothetical imagination that governs the neurotic desire for an impossible object i.e. the 'road not taken'.

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