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What is the mood/tone of the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

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aishling11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 12, 2013 at 2:20 PM via iOS

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What is the mood/tone of the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 12, 2013 at 3:28 PM (Answer #1)

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The mood is the emotional atmosphere evoked by the text, whereas the word 'tone' describes the author's attitude toward the subject to topic. 

In "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, the narrator finds himself facing a choice between two paths when the road forks on his journey through woods in autumn.  He must decide which road to take.  The mood at the beginning of the poem reflects the warmth of the "yellow wood" and the traveler's anticipation at having to choose his own path, so the mood feels light-hearted, even anticipatory. 

The tone, however, really focuses more on how Frost feels about the uncertainty of choices.  The narrator of the poem is unsure about choosing the wrong road and missing unknown opportunities.  The fork in the road becomes a metaphor for all choices that people must and how certain choices may affect the outcome of their lives.  As the narrator reflects on having to make a decision, the tone of "The Road Not Taken" becomes serious and contemplative.


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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted November 23, 2014 at 4:32 PM (Answer #2)

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There are several meaning of this poem by Robert Frost. This is probably one of his most famous poems. It is a beautifully written poem and many people are encouraged by the poem.

The narrator of the poem is at a fork in the road. He ponders on which road he should take. He looks at one road, and part of him wants to take it, but something calls him to take the other road. At first he is not so sure he should have taken this road, and thinks that another day he will take the other road. Here we see that this probably won't happen, but in his mind he thinks he will. He wishes he could have been two people and taken both roads, but is getting more content on the road he has chosen. The road he chooses represents the road that is no as morally cloudy as the one that is taken by so many. This is interesting for humanity itself. Everything is about choices. We hope we make the right choice, but sometimes we are pulled in the wrong direction, and make bad ones. By being diligent in our life we can only hope we make the right choice and take the road that will lead us the journey we are supposed to take.

The last lines in the poem, show us that the narrator is happy with his choice. It makes us feel good for him. It gives us hope, and that is why this poem is beloved by millions.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference."


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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 23, 2014 at 7:00 PM (Answer #3)

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Robert Frost was a great poet. He knew he had that rare talent, and he certainly wanted to use it. However, he also knew that anyone who chooses any kind of career in the creative arts is likely to have a hard time earning a living. He also had the intelligence to be able to succeed and make a lot of money in a more practical career. But this would distract his mind from creativity and detract more and more from the amount of time he would be able to devote to writing. The two roads symbolize the two choices he could make at a crucial point in his life. He chose to lead a simple and austere life and devote as much time as possible to his poetry. He himself acknowledged that this was the meaning of his poem, and it is easy to see in many of the poems, such as "Mending Wall," "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," "Two Tramps in Mud Time," "After Apple-Picking," and "Death of the Hired Man," that he was indeed leading a simple life close to nature and close to the soil. This was what so many people loved about his poem. They are always like a breath of cool fresh air. He sounds a great deal like his fellow New Englander Henry David Thoreau. He told a schoolgirl who wrote him a letter asking about the "sigh" in "The Road Not Taken" that he didn't really regret his choice of the road he figuratively took when he decided to become a gentleman farmer, but that he only wanted to tease the critics who claimed that he regretted not achieving more financial success. In his old age, Frost became not only famous but financially secure. He was invited to read one of his poems at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. His writings have won many honors, and he has been an inspiration to many young people.


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