"The Road Not Taken" themeWhat are the methods which Frost employs to communicate the theme?

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timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have always read this poem to have less to do with the choices we make and more to do with the fact that we have to make choices, and these choices limit/determine what we can do as we proceed down the "road" to the next choice.  There really is no difference in "wear" between the two choices: 

"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."

I do not read the "sigh" as pessimistic, just realistic.  Life is a "limit" situation; that's part of what makes our choices so important.  If we lived forever, if we got a chance to try things over and over forever, none of these choices would "count": since we do not, they all count a great deal.  For example, I began my undergraduate life as a chemistry major; although I liked chemistry, I soon realized that it wasn't for me and I switched to English.  That choice has determined where I taught, where I went to graduate school, the students I taught, the faculty I worked with ... you get the idea.  And each of these "paths" has had subpaths.  I am just starting my 41st year of teaching, and I sometimes sit, and perhaps "sigh," and wonder what it would have been like had I made an alternative choice ... either chemistry or some other major.  Everything would be different; but that's just the point --- "way leads on to way."  We chose, sometimes not in the best light (these choices take place in a wood), but we make them and move on.  It's the only life we have because every choice makes "all the difference."

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Frost first begins to communicate the theme in the title of the poem: The Road Not Taken. The word "not" is emphasized indicating some kind of choice being made. As everyone knows, he takes the road "less traveled by" but Frost uses contradiction when he states he'll take the other road some other time but confesses he probably won't come this way again. This indicates that his choice may be one he will live with a long time. He reemphasizes this in a later line when he states that he will be telling about his choice "with a sigh" at some later date. This may imply some kind of regret. Nevertheless, his choice has made all the difference." The regretful tone and title suggest that perhaps the speaker regrets the choice or at least having to make a decision.At the end of the poem he states:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The indecision of the speaker is reinforced by the repetition of “I,” split by the line division and emphasized by the rhyme and pause.
Thus, Frost uses the title, diction, tone, repetition and pattern of the poem to communicate his theme.

kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
"The Road Not Taken" theme

What are the methods which Frost employs to communicate the theme?

An interesting note about this poem is that despite the fact that many people think this poem is a positive commentary about the road he chose; however, we have no evidence this is the case.  It is very ambiguous.  When the narrator states at the end that the road he chose made all the difference, he does not say that it was a positive difference.  He merely states it made "a" difference. This leaves the entire poem to be interpreted by the reader as either positive OR negative, really.  Since there is a "sigh" involved, I have always felt that perhaps the narrator is quite sad that he chose this particular road.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with #6 on this one. Picture the narrator peering as far down each road as he can, seeing that each road is roughly the same, choosing one of them, and finally--years later--wondering what might have been.  That's the theme of the poem and that's the method by which Frost chooses to express it.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem is about choices we all must make in our lives.  He chose one road, but seems to regret the road he didn't choose. However, we only know the consequences of the choices we do make, and his choice made all the difference to him, to his family, and to his audience.

simandhr | Student

The poem is about the choices that we have to make in our lives. Here the traveller is baffled at firs and then he decides to take the road less travelled by as It seems that the he is more nonconformist and so he chooses to be different it is the same as making unique choice which may be different form the other and provides ample of opportunities for the person to be distinct having distinct experiences. The tone, as it may be suggested, at last is pessimistic since the poet uses the word ‘sigh’ but whatever the difference comes to his life he is willing to share with others as they would be different form the rest of the other. The poem suggests that any choice made by a person in life, however insignificant it may seem at first, will have its impact on a person so the traveller says:  “I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.”