Check the site below for several contradictions in the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Select two of these contradictions and discuss them in literary terms.
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Paradoxes, or contradictions, in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" are found when the speaker describes two paths:
1. They are "just as fair" as one another, but he takes one "Because it was grassy and wanted wear," which suggests that it was different, after all.
2. Nevertheless, the speaker claims that they are "worn...really about the same." So now he claims that they are not different.
3. Then, in the third stanza, the speaker notes that the paths that morning--
In leaves no step had trodden black...
So, the implication is that neither path has been traveled.
4. The speaker says that he notes the first path for a later date, but doubts that he will ever return.
5. In the last two lines of the poem, the speaker notes that he
took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
These lines seem contradictory to the title which is not about the road the speaker has taken, but about the one not taken.
Discussion of two contradictions in literary terms
1. In the opening stanza, the "wood" is described as "yellow." This color imagery suggests a luminous quality, inviting; on the other hand, yellow is sometimes the color of danger and foreboding, as well. The path is a metaphor for the life choices of the speaker, who is very serious; Frost himself "sighs" and declares he will be retelling his tale as a humorous way of mocking his speaker. So, there is an ironic use of metaphor, as well.
5. Frost's poem, which is reportedly about an indecisive friend, Edward Thomas, with whom Frost took walks, describes the vacillation of the speaker who, like Thomas, experiences difficulty in making choices, and once having made them recriminates himself for not having taken the other. Hence, the paradox of the title: while the speaker describes the decision of taking one path, he cannot keep from thinking about the other choice, "the road not taken." This is what Thomas always bemoaned at the end of his and Frost's walks: "I wonder what the other path, which seems to haunt him, may have been like?" While the choice of the word "road" is rather strange for a wooded path, its symbolism aggrandizes it to that of major decisions in life, perhaps. Certainly, the word connotes (literary term=connotation) the Roman road, one laid by the labor of humans.
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