What perspective did the traveler have in the beginning of the poem? What was it at the end? Why did it change? In my opinion, the traveler thought that the two roads were same at first, but...

What perspective did the traveler have in the beginning of the poem? What was it at the end? Why did it change?

In my opinion, the traveler thought that the two roads were same at first, but eventually after a close examination he thinks that the second one is less traveled.

I'm not sure if I'm right, so I want to hear what other people think, because I feel like I'm missing something and that what I've written above is not really the 2 perspectives.

Asked on by student121

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allie-draper's profile pic

allie-draper | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

I like your interpretation of the poem! I think the speaker does change his mind, and so it makes sense to me to argue (as I think you're inclined to do) that the speaker initially thinks the roads are the same ("Though as for that the passing there / Had worn them really about the same, / And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black...") but in the end changes his mind and believes that one has been less traveled ("I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.").

I also see another change in the traveler's perspective. Although some think the poem's speaker is reflecting melancholically on his life (a perspective I understand), I'm inclined to think he's not unhappy about having taken the road "less traveled"—he says it's "made all the difference." Perhaps he's proud of his choice; whether the road he chose was truly the less conventional one or only appeared to be so, the fact that he took the one he perceived to be more unusual and less common has made all the difference in his life. Thus, I see the speaker relating two perspectives:

1) His initial belief that both paths are alike and that this makes it difficult to choose.

2) His changed perspective many years down the road, when he realizes that it doesn't actually matter whether the roads were the same or not; all that matters is that we take the path that we believe to be less common—that we act as individuals who choose our own way rather than follow the herd.

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I had a rather strange idea about the perspective in this poem. It occurred to me that the speaker was dead and was reflecting on his past life. How else can we explain the last stanza?

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.

What can he mean by "ages and ages hence" except centuries hence? This certainly suggests that he expects to have an afterlife. And if he has an afterlife, he might already be living in it. The event must have been very important to him--but perhaps every choice we make in life is of incredible significance, like a stone cast into a body of water that keeps sending out circular ripples forever. 

The two roads which diverged in a yellow wood are obviously not real roads but metaphorical roads. They seem to represent career choices the speaker had to make at a crucial point in his life. What is unusual, as well as effective, about this point is that the reader is kept inside the metaphor from the beginning until almost the end. It is only in the last stanza that the reader is taken out of the yellow woods, which never really existed except as a metaphor. Maybe our entire lives are only metaphors which we do not understand until after they are over? 

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student121's profile pic

student121 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Thank you too for your answer.

However, I can't comprehend completely the answer to my question. Maybe it wasn't written well, but in the word 'perspective' I don't mean the physical position where the traveler is, but his way of thinking, that according to the question has changed during his journey.

As I undestand the question, the whole journey has changed the traveler completely and made him think differently than he used to before making the decision.

So what I'm trying to understand specifically is what was the change between the two way of thinkings, and what are they.

readerofbooks's profile pic

readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I commend your desire to get a "second opinion." Many people have taken the poem to mean what you say. However, there is good evidence that the meaning of the poem is something entirely different. 

To be sure there is a fork in the road, but both roads are equally worn. The idea that one is less worn than the other is not quite right. Here are the words of the third stanza:

And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black.

The key words is both. The point is that one has to make a choice. So, one does. 

The meaning of the poem is that later in life, people will second guess their decisions. In fact, they may say something to this effect: "If only I had taken the other road, my life would have been so different (usually better)." 

I think the poem is getting at the human heart's inability to find contentment. We always want more or something new. So, we second guess ourselves. In the end, there is a sense of sadness in the poem. 

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student121's profile pic

student121 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Thank you very much for your answer.

Although I now understand the general meaning of the poem more thoroughly than I did before, I still don't fully understand the answer to the question that I asked.

What is exactly the inital traveler's perspective and the latter one? 

Is the first perspective considered to be the experience of the traveler before the choice that he has made, and the second one is the experience that includes the events that ensued as a result of the choice, and the difference between the two is basically the time that has passes between them?

Thanks again!

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