What is conformity?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

"And sorry I could not travel both" is one of the first moments where the significance of conformity is evident.   The speaker understands that his own condition of choice, having to choose which path to take, is something that exists outside of the realm of the social setting.  It is beyond being conformist, the desire to assimilate oneself within the larger entity. The premise of the poem is that the individual choices that the speaker embraces "made all the difference."  This premise of choice is one that stands outside of conformity and trusting in a larger group.  The choices faced are individual.  They must be made by individuals and must be made without the relative anonymity of the group.  It is here where one of the fundamental themes of the poem is revealed in that individualism is an intrinsic part of our identity.  While the individual might wish to placate the pain of having to choose with the assimilation into a conformist state of being, the reality is that this is the not case.  Our choices become our own.  These are the elements that "make all the difference."  The questions we face about these choices and the analysis we undergo as a result of these choices are done because they are our choices.  Conformity cannot fully evade the difficulty and sometimes agony of personal choice.  It is here where Frost's poem speaks to individualism, highlighting that while conformity exists, it can do little to enable our escape from the choices that are so definitive in who we are and what we do.

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mrsk72's profile pic

mrsk72 | Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Conformity is when you behave in a way, or make decisions which fit in with a larger group, for example, saying you like a particular band that your friends like.

In 'The Road Not Taken', Frost is talking about the nature of life and decisions. His two roads are similar, as he states that the road he takes was 'just as fair', he takes one that 'was grassy and wanted wear'. He goes on to suggest that the other road was in a fairly similar condition. He implies that at the point of decision, there is very little difference between the two pathways, but once the decision is made he must live with it.

He comments on conformity by saying that in years to come he will tell people that he 'took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference' By imagining his future self being nostalgic and rewriting his actions, he is aware that this in itself is a type of conformity, that we like to view ourselves and our actions as unique and individual.

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