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In "The Road Not Taken," Robert Frost discusses the long-reaching effects of decisions.
Frost does this by telling about a time that he came across two roads "that diverged" (split apart) "in a yellow wood." He knew that he could not "travel both," so he "looked down one as far [he] could." Then, he took the other road, which was not as well-travelled as the other: "it was grassy and wanted wear."
Frost considers the option of returning someday to the other road, but he knows it is not likely to happen:
knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
He realizes that his decision will have an effect for the rest of his life:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Like most of Frost's poems, "The Road Not Taken" has a regular meter: each line contains approximately 9 syllables.
The poem rhymes, in an unusual ABAAA rhyme scheme.
It uses one fairly simply image, that of the two roads diverging in the woods.
A critical appreciation is the expression of a personal opinion but one that is supported by the contents of the poem. The use of the word "critical" infers that the elements of the poem need to be addressed because the tone, mood and intention in poetry are often conveyed and reliant upon these elements and the rhyme, rhythm and literary devices found within. Due to the nature of poetry and various interpretations, critical appreciations can often present contrary views.
In Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken, the popular view is that it is written about a friend of Frost's and is a tongue-in-cheek attempt at humor as Frost recognizes his friend's inability to make even the most cursory decisions, considering them all to be potentially life-changing.
The narrator's indecision in the poem is the main focus and it is important to note that the title is not about the narrator's choice but about what he does not choose. While the narrator considers, ponders and deliberates on his choice, he cannot stop wondering about the fact that his choice has "made all the difference." The narrator does not give any details about the results of his choice only that he will still be thinking about that other road "somewhere ages and ages hence." It is apparent that, had he chosen the other road, he would be contemplating this road in years to come and asking himself the same questions. In other words, neither choice actually satisfies him.
Frost wrote the poem in the first person to give strength to the argument that sometimes there is no clear path to take and he uses metaphor to compare life's choices to a physical journey and a path which determines the future. Frost uses simple language to convey a complex theme and allows for wide interpretation. The reader will be as equally conflicted as the narrator and will be left with questions.
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