person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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What is suggested by the movement from one image to the next? Remember that the order or sequence of images is almost as important as the images themselves.

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With the progression of images in "The Road Not Taken," there is the movement of the speaker from looking back through memory. First, he peers in memory at the two roads and is conflicted about which to choose; then, he chooses one, but still worries that perhaps he should have selected the other. Finally, he thinks back on his choices with great regret. This order of images is a reflection of the speaker's character.

  • "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood"

The images of one road breaking off from the other or, as it were, parting suggests that one went a rather unnatural way. This idea is also connoted by the use of the word "yellow" to describe the woods since yellow is a color that has conflicting associations. One that seems to fit with the word diverged in Frost's poem is deceit. It is also curious that the word "road" is used rather than path, suggesting a life journey, rather than a mere trek.

  • "in the undergrowth"

This image suggests wilderness and, perhaps, even danger, which is, perhaps, why the speaker chooses the other path that is, instead, "grassy."

  • "And both that morning equally lay"

The word "morning" suggests the image of a new day, a new blank sheet of life on which the speaker can choose to act as he wishes. This image implies that the speaker has the opportunity to make his own individual choice.

  • "...leaves no step had trodden black"

Neither path is worn, but the image of "black" continues to suggest the darkness of the speaker's fears and dreads.

  • "Two roads diverged in a wood..."

In the last stanza, the color "yellow" has been eliminated from the first line. Now, the line has no descriptor of the woods. Has the color faded from the speaker's memory? Or does he now realize that there was really nothing sinister about the other path? That the yellow was suggestive only of his fear may be the implication made here. "And that has made all the difference"; if he were more daring, perhaps, life would have been more rewarding to the speaker.

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