What literary techniques does Frost employ in "The Road Not Taken?"
The poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost is a narrative poem that uses the literary elements of first person narration, the story arc, symbolism, and analogy. The poem tells a story in the voice of its only character. The poem's story arc consists of the following:
Inciting incident: the narrator comes to a fork in the road.
Conflict: the narrator must decide which way to go.
Rising action: the narrator evaluates both paths.
Climax: the narrator decides: "Oh, I kept the first for another day!"
Falling action/denouement: narrator doubts if he will ever come back and reflects on his decision.
Theme: taking the route less traveled can impact one's life immensely.
The symbol (or metaphor) of the poem is the diverging path; it represents decision points in life.
The symbol actually becomes an analogy, which is an extended metaphor with corresponding parts. The diverging paths represent a decision point, evaluating the pros and cons of each path is the decision-making process, and proceeding down one path is the choice a person makes which makes it unlikely that he or she "should ever come back." After a decision is made, there is often a "sigh" where one wonders if the correct action was chosen. Years later a person can look back and see how that one decision affected many things in his or her life.
By telling a simple story that is an analogy for the decision-making process we all are familiar with, Frost created a memorable and meaningful poem that has been touching the hearts of readers for 100 years.