In "The Road Not Taken," what is the tone or attitude?
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This is a poem of quiet reflection as the narrator recalls a time in his life when he had to choose one path over another. The paths are metaphors for different directions to take in living his life. One path appears, at first, to be more worn than the other; more people seem to have chosen this path. The narrator rejects this path in favor of the other one that "wanted wear." He chose one direction in life over another option.
The narrator remembers that at the time of choosing, he wished he could take both paths and told himself that he would save the other "for another day." Even then, however, the narrator knew in his heart that he would most likely never be able to go back and choose a different way.
The overall tone of the poem is one of regret. The narrator, having made his choice, is still remembering the choice he did not make. He believes that at some time far in the future, he will still be thinking of his two possible paths "with a sigh." He does not anticipate being any less conflicted then or any more satisfied with his choice. He realizes that his choice will have made "all the difference" in his life, but he is presently uncertain about what the difference will turn out to be.
The tone of attitude of the poem changes as the traveller considers his choice of roads. The first attitude is reveals the speaker to be somewhat indecisive. He comes across a fork in the road and wishes to “travel both” but then decides that would be impractical. So, he selects “the one less traveled by... '" This suggests a feeling of independence and adventure. However, he quickly questions his own description. “Though as for that the passing there/ Had worn them really about the same.” He still decides to take the other route on another day. Then he says he will will be “telling this with a sigh,” which seems to imply a tone of regret. But by the end of the poem, the tone turns to a feeling of inevitability and acceptance. He writes:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The speaker has finally reconciled the fact that he made a choice and that choice was important and simply leaves it at that. Many people think that Frost was explaining his choice to become a poet in this poem. However,several times, Frost himself said the poem was about his friend, fellow poet Edward Thomas who was known for his indecisiveness and habit of "habit of dwelling on the irrevocability of
decisions". If so, then Thomas' habit has been immortalized by Frost and we will be telling of his experience “with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence” .
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