The Road Not Taken Questions and Answers
by Robert Frost

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What figurative language is used in the poem "The Road Not Taken"?

The road as a metaphor for life is the main example of figurative language used in "The Road Not Taken." The road represents choices that one must make in life and the impact of each individual choice on the course of one's life.

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Figurative language is when words are used to convey a message beyond their literal meaning. Metaphors are perhaps the most common example of figurative language: metaphors tend to make symbols out of unlikely things or events. "The Road Not Taken" is essentially an extended metaphor for making decisions in one's life.

The road itself is the poem's central metaphor. As in life, people must make choices, and these choices lead to further choices and so on. The choices are represented by the different paths the walker encounters. He finds the two paths look about the same, only one appears less traveled by, and this appeals to him.

The poem further develops this metaphor by stressing that once a path is followed, it is impossible to go back to the original path:

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

That is, the speaker will have taken so many different routes that he cannot return to the original fork in the road. This represents how life is linear. People cannot repeat the past or go back and change the decisions they have made. It also suggests that the course of a life is dependent upon an individual's decisions above anything else. There is nothing deterministic about Frost's poem—that is, there is nothing suggesting the individual's course is influenced by environment or demographic, but rather by choice.

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