person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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An analysis of the figurative language, poetic devices, symbolism, and diction in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" to understand its literal and metaphorical meanings

Summary:

In "The Road Not Taken," Robert Frost uses figurative language, including metaphors and symbolism, to convey the poem's literal and metaphorical meanings. The two roads symbolize life choices, and the traveler's decision represents individual paths. Poetic devices like rhyme and meter enhance the reflective tone, while Frost's diction emphasizes the significance and consequences of choices, illustrating the complex nature of decision-making.

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How does the figurative language convey Frost's message in "The Road Not Taken"?

There are several ways in which the figurative language Frost employs to help illuminate the meaning.  In order for this to be established, I would point to the meaning of the poem in terms of choice and freedom being the crux of what it means to be human.  Finding specific lines and references to this would be good as the poem is filled with them.  In discovering these lines and references, examine how Frost is discussing the theme of freedom of choice.  For example, the figurative language used to describe the paths themselves.  Finding the specific word choice, specifically in the second stanza, helps reveal why the speaker made the choice he did.  The images employed help the reader to understand why the speaker made the choice he did, central to the meaning and purpose of the poem.

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

Robert Frost uses "the road" as a metaphor for a course not taken in life. In the first line, the narrator recalls his fateful choice: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood." "Two roads" are a metaphor for two options. The "yellow wood" signifies an autumn light. Frost's decision to set the moment in the Fall could be a metaphor for a narrator that is in his or her "autumn years."

Like many of those faced with two good options but forced to choose one, the narrator expresses sorrow that he could not choose both—we can only walk down one path. 

In the second stanza, he muses that he initially believed that his choice was the better of the two but later thought differently:

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that, the passing there

Had worn them really about the same...

The option we choose is always less appealing after it is chosen, for we wonder about the choice that we did not make. Thus, in the end, the narrator realizes that both choices were about equally good.

In the third stanza, the narrator mentions time of day: it is "morning." Morning could signify a new beginning. When we are presented with a new choice, or opportunity, this offers us a chance to do something new—even to start again. It is here, too, that the narrator recognizes the finality of his or her choice:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

The speaker knows that once a choice is made, it cannot be undone. One must continue on the "path" that was chosen.

The final stanza reveals a kind of wistfulness for choices not made:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

The "difference" is not an ode to non-conformity, as so many have thought but instead an acceptance that choices determine the outcome of one's life. The path the speaker chose is "the one less traveled by," not because it was less ordinary, but only because it looked more appealing at first. Yet, both options, or paths, were "really about the same."

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What kind of figurative language do you find in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

The one piece of figurative language that seems to rise above the rest in Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," is symbolism.

Defined, symbolism is:

...when an object is meant to be representative of something or an idea greater than the object itself.

Though some people may see a contradiction, the "popular" understanding of the symbol of a path that comes to a fork in the woods is that the speaker has arrived at the point where he must make an important life-choice. His sense of individualism drives him to take the path that has been traveled more lightly so as not to follow the "common" path. Though the poem simply describes a walk in the woods, finding symbolism gives "The Road Not Taken" a much deeper meaning to an observant reader.

Personification is also used by Frost. He speaks of the path that "wanted wear." Personification occurs when human characteristics are given to non-human things. In this case, a path cannot "want" anything, but is personified by the author. Also, "having perhaps the better claim" may also be personification in saying that the path "deserved" or "asked" (referring to "claim") to be trodden upon because it had not been worn down.

Finally, we could say that "sigh" is an example of onomatopoeia, which is defined as...

...natural sounds [that] are imitated in the sounds of words (eg buzz, hiss)

In other words, it is when a word represents the sound that it stands for. The word "sigh" mimics the sound we make when we sigh.

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What literary techniques does Frost employ in "The Road Not Taken"?

Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" features a first-person speaker recounting a personal anecdote. This means that the speaker is using the first person pronoun "I" and telling a story about a personal experience. These features also make the poem a narrative poem, as it tells a story, rather than a lyric poem.

Further, Frost uses simple diction, alliteration, and a basic rhyme scheme of ABAAB CDCCD EFEEF GHGGH. The word choice is straightforward. Alliteration can be found in some of the lines; for example, "Because it was grassy and wanted wear" (line 8), repeats the beginning "w" sound. 

The speaker describes the two roads using imagery. He discusses each road in turn, especially focuses on how "worn" each road is, meaning how many times travelers have chosen that road over the other. The first three lines present the central conflict of the poem: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both, / And be one traveler, long I stood" deciding which road to take. Once he makes his decision, the speaker expresses this with an exclamatory statement: "Oh, I kept the first for another day!" (12). 

The poem's mood takes a dark turn near the end, when the speaker ponders the irreversible consequences of choosing one path over another. He "doubted if [he] should ever come back," and this doubt means that his decision is irreversible (15). He also says that in the future, he "shall be telling this with a sigh" (16). The speaker's reflections could be said to symbolize or could be said to serve as a metaphor for any decision we make in our lives: ultimately, we choose one path, and we cannot go back and reverse our decision. The choice "has made all the difference" (20). 

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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.

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What is personified in "The Road Not Taken"?

Personfication is a figure of speech whereby inanimate objects, such as stones or trees, are given human qualities and therefore a comparison is created. An example would be talking about a clock staring at you with its face. Clearly, clocks can't literally stare, but the face is compared to a human face and thus the clock is given the human action of staring.

Bearing in mind this definition, we can see that actually no things, concepts or objects are personified in this poem. The poem is actually told in a very simple style which is sparse of figurative language and literary terms. You would benefit from analysing this poem focusing on the imagery that is employed instead and considering what the scenario is used to represent.

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What is the literal and metaphorical meaning of a quote in "The Road Not Taken"?

This is a great question to think about. Remember, there are many quotes that you could use to answer it, but if I were you, I would turn to the final stanza, and use that to point out the symbolic meaning of this poem and how it operates on both a literal and a more metaphorical level:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somwhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Clearly we can see how this poem works on a literal level. A man is walking through the woods and comes to a fork and needs to pick one. Both appear to be similar and so he has to make a random choice. However, this choice becomes symbolically important for him. The final line of the poem, "And that has made all the difference," suggests that there is something much deeper going on than having to choose between two identical paths, and points towards the way that in our lives we have to make big decisions without knowing what the outcomes of those decisions are, and are often left haunted by the outcomes of those decisions. The way that the speaker remembers this "ages and ages hence" indicates just how important this life decision was, and the "sigh" with which he tells his tale shows how he is still preoccupied with his decision and how he imagines what his life would have been like if he had taken the other path.

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What are the key comparisons in "The Road Not Taken," including similes and metaphors?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost compares two paths in a wood which go in different directions. The reader recognizes the symbolic message in the descriptions and can relate to the narrator's dilemma as he ponders his choice and laments the opportunities he may be missing on the other path. The whole poem is a metaphor for life as a journey with the narrator comparing himself to a traveler who considers how the choices he makes now will affect outcomes in the future.

In terms of its metaphorical value, the poem also serves as a warning to the reader not to dwell on or obsess over missed opportunities but to learn from the narrator's mistakes and actually relish decisions made rather than living in regret and uncertainty. Furthermore, Frost wants the reader to realize that not all decisions are life-changing- note how "the passing there Had worn them really about the same," indicating that this particular decision may not have made much of a difference in fact, although the narrator would not agree. 

In terms of individual comparisons, there are not many and the real value lies in the fact that Frost uses something tangible  to get the message across. Frost does use personification to compare the two paths when he talks how one path has "the better claim" and both paths "lay in leaves" as if comparing the paths to people. He also compares the path that the narrator does not choose to a keepsake, something that he can put away "for another day."

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

This is actually a complex question because it delves into Frost's aesthetic of poetics: the question of how does he do what he does. It seems to me that we have no give-away to the non-literal meaning of the poem until the last stanza--when reading the poem with fresh eyes as one who has never encountered it before--as the early stanzas ring true of a poet waxing lyrical about a romantic walk in the woods one day. It is only when we read of "ages and ages hence" and the "sigh" and the import of "I-- / I took ..." that we begin to question the true meaning of our encounter in the woods with those "Two roads [that] diverged in a yellow wood, ...."

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

One reason for thinking that the roads in the poem are not merely literal is that the idea of travelling through woods has often been treated metaphorically in poetry. So has the idea of journeying in general (as in "The Wanderer" and "The Seafarer"). The opening of Dante's Inferno is perhaps the classic case of a speaker moving through metaphorical woods. Another reason for thinking that the roads are metaphorical is that it seems unlikely that a poem would be written about literal travel down a literal road. Poems often tend to be reflective and meditative (especially lyrical poems), and so even the title of this poem suggests that the road is figurative rather than literal. Finally, the fact that the speaker recalls his decision and continues to brood over it suggests that the decision is not merely literal. There would be little reason to ponder the decision if it were simply the choice of one literal road over another.

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

The speaker of Robert Frost's poem, whom some critics believe is his indecisive friend Edward Thomas since Frost himself made a statement that the poem was written about him, was known to have dwelt upon the irrevocability of decisions.  As he describes the road he takes in a different manner from earlier in the poem indicates his interminable debate upon choices.  With his proclivity to aggrandise one choice over the other, Thomas's perspectives alter as the poem progresses.

This narrator reminds readers of the shoppers who cannot decide upon an item of clothing.  Then, when home, the shopper reflects, "Maybe I should have bought ----. That might have looked better on me, worked better for me, etc."

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

I agree that #3 posted a very poignant answer. The fact that Frost wrote consistently using extended metaphors provides the key to the roads existing as something more than a literal road. The fact that the symbolism of the roads less, or more, traveled is important as well given that it already exists as an image people can readily recognize.

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

I think the last line can be interpreted differently.  Just saying that it made a difference does not necessarily mean it was a positive difference.  For all we know, the man might have been lost in the woods writing the poem!  I don't think that's a likely interpretation though.  More likely, the roads are a metaphor for life.

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

I like #3's way of phrasing it! After making the choice and living with the consequences of choosing one path over the other, the speaker is reflecting upon that choice with the benefit of many years of hindsight. I don't think the speaker is sorry about the path chosen, but is simply recognizing that there were other experiences in life that s/he missed as a result of making the choice to follow the less-traveled route through life.

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

Aside from the fact that it is written by Robert Frost (who is notorious for his extended metaphors) I think it is interesting that the speaker concludes in the final stanza that the path he took was the "one less traveled by" when just two stanzas before that he suggests that both paths, though clearly different, have been worn "about the same."

It is as if he is suggesting the difference between the two roads was not apparent at the time of the decision, but in hindsight, he realized he took the one that most did not take.  By very nature of the reflection and the suggestion that such wisdom can only come through age and experience, then the images in the entire poem come from an older/wiser perspective, further suggesting they are meant to be metaphors and not literal.

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What statements in "The Road Not Taken" suggest the roads symbolize more than literal paths?

To me, the symbolism implicit in this poem is made clear in the final stanza, which asks us to think why it is that a common, everyday happening such as a rambler having to choose one path over another is something that will be remembered and retold years after the event. This clearly points towards this decision being symbolic and much more important than it first appears to be.

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What poetic techniques are used in "The Road Not Taken"?

Robert Frost makes use of some classic symbolism and imagery in the poem “The Road Not Taken.” The idea of using a fork in the road to symbolize the making of an important decision is not unique to Frost, but he does an exceptional job of developing the symbol and imbuing it with some memorable imagery.

He establishes the symbolic theme of the poem immediately with his first line, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” He continues to talk about the roads throughout all four stanzas. Some students ask how we can be sure he is creating symbols, rather than just writing about two roads that he happens to see. The answer to that lies in the fourth and final stanza.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence:/ Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I/ I took the one less traveled by/ And that has made all the difference.”

Only a major decision would affect the speaker so deeply that he would think about it years and years later.

Frost’s imagery establishes the fact that the decision is being made later in life. The wood (meaning the woods, or forest) is yellow; therefore, the season is autumn. This correlates with middle age on the part of the speaker.

The third stanza supplies another important image:

"Both that morning equally lay/ In leaves no step had trodden black."

This expresses the idea that either road will be a road just for him—no one else has travelled it. In other words, his life is his own, a unique event.

One of the links below will lead you to a recording of Frost himself reading the poem.

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How is the chosen road described in "The Road Not Taken"?

The traveler describes the road he takes as the one "less traveled by." He also describes it as "grassy" and says that it "wanted wear," meaning that it is not worn out by people using it. The fact that it is "grassy" also means it is not well traveled, because if it were--if many feet and horses' hooves had trod on it--the grass would be stamped down and killed. 

He says that the road he takes, like the road he doesn't, was covered with "leaves no step had trodden black." Like the grass, the untrampled leaves indicate that few people have gone down this particular road. 

We also are told this road is in a woods, meaning the narrator is going down a path that is shady and a bit mysterious: he can't be quite sure what is to come. 

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How does the poet use symbolism to describe the directions in "The Road Not Taken"?

In "The Road Not Taken," a well-known poem written by Robert Frost, the possible choices that a person may make in life are represented by a fork in the road he travels.  One path, "the one less traveled by," is described as "grassy and want[ing] wear"; the narrator tells that he looks down that he

looked down [the other] one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth[.]

In the end, the narrator realizes that taking the road that few others have chosen "has made all the difference."

The grassy, untrampled appearance of the second of the two choices of paths, is symbolic of a choice that few have made.  It indicates that taking that path means choosing not to follow the popular decision.  Had the traveller taken the first of the two paths, he would have done what most others did; he would simply have made the decision because it was what appeared to be expected.

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How can one identify literary devices in "The Road Not Taken"?

One of the simplest literary devices to find in this poem is imagery.  Imagery refers to sensory experience represented through language.  So, any time the speaker describes something that you can see, hear, taste, smell, or touch, the poet is using imagery.  We can identify the first line as imagery, then: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood."  The leaves are all yellow, telling us that it is fall, and there are two roads that split away from one another between the trees. 

We can also identify symbolism in this poem, if not before the final stanza then in the final stanza.  The speaker equates one road with having made "all the difference" in his life (line 20).  Although it is lie because he has already said that both roads were "worn [...] about the same," it shows us that the roads have more meaning that just their literal one (10).  Thus, we can understand that the roads symbolize choices in one's life.

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Comment on Frost's use of the road image in "The Road Not Taken".

Frost uses the scene of the two roads as a metaphor for decisions made in life. A metaphor, you may remember, is a comparison of one thing to another, often by saying that they are the same. The “two roads” here can easily be interpreted as two different jobs to take, or two different colleges to attend, or two different places to live, or even two different individuals with which to have a relationship. The viewer has to decide which one to take. This act involves comparing the two, with their advantages and disadvantages, as far as one can tell from this point in time. But just as in the poem, we can’t see very far down either road; we unfortunately don’t know all of the ramifications and what may lie ahead for either choice. The use of this metaphor makes the poem all that more compelling and relevant to just about any reader. We have all faced the making of such decisions. And it’s frustrating, not to be able to immediately know the consequences of our actions. This is a scene that speaks to “everyman.” And naturally, the paths we choose will make “all the difference,” one way or another. This is real life.

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What poetic devices are used in "The Road Not Taken" and how do they enhance the comparison between the two roads?

In "The Road Not Taken," Frost uses imagery as the speaker makes his decision about which path to take. The one that is "grassy" and "wanted wear" wins out over the other. It is a contrast: the road that looks more travelled likely represents safety. It is a conservative path that has carried many other people in the direction it offers. The other path requires more courage and a willingness to take chances.

The final stanza utilizes future tense as the speaker projects himself "ages and ages hence." In it, he expresses the sentiment that the less common path has "made all the difference." This, however, offers some ambiguity. It is not clear whether the difference will have been positive; all that is known is that he expects to live a long life and pinpoint this decision as the one that sets his trajectory.

Another feature of the poem's setting is the imagery of a "yellow wood." In a deciduous forest, this color would indicate that it is late in the year. This could represent that the season for the speaker to make his decision is drawing to its end, adding a sense of urgency to his commitment to one path or the other.

The fact that the speaker understands that returning to this spot is unlikely adds a note of realism to the poem's tone.

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What is the irony in "The Road Not Taken"?

The irony in “The Road Not Taken” is that the speaker admits that he plans to misrepresent his choice between the two roads when he tells the story in the future. Throughout the poem, the speaker provides several clues that although the decision between the two roads feels significant, the roads are similar and have been traveled about the same number of times. Although the roads initially seem different, the speaker acknowledges that

the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

In other words, about the same number of people have passed down each road, wearing the paths the same amount. Further, the two paths

equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.

No one has walked down either road this particular morning, as the leaves atop the roads are freshly fallen and untrodden by others’ footsteps.

However, the speaker says that when he tells the story of his choice “ages and ages hence”—a long time in the future—he is going to say that he

took the [road] less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

He plans to say that one of the roads truly had been less traveled than the other and that he chose that road, but he has already made it clear that there is no road "less traveled by."

There is great irony in this disjunction. At some level, the speaker knows that it is human nature to ascribe great importance to one's life choices, and he thinks he is bound to misrepresent his experience for this reason.

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What does the road symbolize in "The Road Not Taken"?

Simply put, this road symbolizes life and the choices we make every day which change and shape our future in ways we have no understanding of.

The poet has come to a point where the road on which he is travelling splits into two, and he is trying to decide which one to take. He seems to stand for a long time deliberating over which road to take and thinking about two things: firstly, he has no idea where either of the roads will take him, and secondly, since he doubts "that [he] should ever come back," he will not have a chance to take the other road at a later stage.

Having stared down one road for quite some time, the poet then "took the other, as just as fair." It seems that both pathways look pretty similar, as Frost says that "the passing there had worn them really about the same." This means that it wasn't a case of there being one clear, easy path and another strewn with branches and foliage that would have been difficult to traverse.

The last two lines of this great poem are probably it's most famous. Despite the fact that Frost seems to contradict his earlier comment about the paths looking much the same, he uses these last lines to bring a moral or philosophical lesson into the poem. Taking "the road less traveled" is implied to have had a positive impact on the poet's life, as it has "made all the difference."

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What does the road symbolize in "The Road Not Taken"?

"The Road Not Taken" represents a choice one must make in their life, perhaps a choice that strikes them as quite significant, as each road will lead to somewhere different. How does one choose when it is impossible to see where each road leads? The speaker is "sorry [he] could not travel both / And be one traveler," and so he spends some time looking at and pondering his options. He notes that the second is "just as fair" as the first, but they do look a bit different. "Though [...] the passing there / Had worn them really about the same." In other words, the roads have been traveled by other passers-by about the same number of times; they are equally worn. So, he picks the "grassy," second road, hoping that he might someday have a chance to see where the other goes, but "doubt[ing] if" he will ever make it back to this same exact spot. Similarly, once we make a choice, that choice leads to other choices that we must make, and so on and so forth, and we can never really go back to who and where we were when we made that initial decision.

In the end, the speaker says that he will tell people in the future that he "took the [road] less traveled" and that this choice "has made all the difference" in his life. However, he has already told us that there is no road less traveled; they are "worn [...] about the same." Why would he lie? Perhaps he does so to make himself look or feel good about making a unique choice. Perhaps he does so to allow his listeners to believe that making a unique or brave choice is possible? We can only speculate.

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What does the road symbolize in "The Road Not Taken"?

The road in Frost's "The Road Not Taken" symbolizes the path of life. At so many different points in our lives, we must make choices. The choices may seem to be small ones, to go down one street as opposed to another or to wear a yellow shirt as opposed to a blue one. But the choices can be large ones, which are more the kinds the poem is intended to make us contemplate. We decide to live in one city or another, we decide to marry one person or another, or we decide to become architects or poets.

All of us would like to perhaps sample these different paths in life, but until we have figured out a way to live alternative lives in alternative universes, we understand that making one choice precludes another nearly all of the time. The narrator says,

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back (lines 13-15).
One choice in path leads to another set of choices, and seldom are we able to wend our way back to a previous path-divergence. Even if we do so, we are changed so much by our life experiences that we cannot have a perfect "do-over."
There is some regret and resignation about this, as the narrator says,
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence (lines 16-17)
But the fact is, we do have to make these choices on our path through life, and the narrator understands that even though he may have regrets, he must make his choices.
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What do the roads represent in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

"The Road Not Taken" is one of the most recognized poems in American Literature written by a literary giant, Robert Frost.  Frost employs a metaphor based on the two roads.   These roads represent the choices man has to make that determine the outcome of his life. Career, marriage, education--all are selections that one makes as he goes through life.

The first person point of view enables the narrator to speak directly to the reader about the alternatives that he has before him.  When the poem begins, it is fall with the leaves turning yellow.  The man comes to a “Y” in the road.  Indecisive about which way to go, the narrator establishes that he would like to move down both paths; but that is an impossibility. He stands and contemplates the options carefully:

A.  One road has a bend which is hard to see. Both have equal wear and apparently have not been disturbed since the leaves had fallen. He decides that if he comes back to this spot again [which he doubts], that it will be the path he follows.

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth

B. The other road he thinks has more grass and less wear, but then decides the roads are about the same. He does say that the road that he chooses is more fair.

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.

Finally, the man decides that the second road is less traveled. Fewer people have made the choice to proceed the way he chooses.  Why would that make a difference? Perhaps, it has more obstacles to conquer and challenges to surmount.  Whatever his reasoning, the narrator takes the road and feels like that made a real difference in his life.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

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What does the road "less traveled" symbolize in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

"The road less traveled by" could symbolize a more unconventional path through life than the "roads" that others typically take. It could relate, for example, to the way one makes a living. Conventional vocations include business, law, medicine, education, engineering, and manual labor, while a more unconventional vocation could be that of an artist.

Unconventional ways of living could include choosing an itinerant lifestyle as opposed to settling down in a fixed location. Instead of marrying and raising a family, another choice could be opting for being single or childless. The speaker in Frost's poem had the courage to take an unconventional approach to some area of his life, and since he declares that it "has made all the difference," what is implied is that the choice turned out to be a good one for him.

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What does the road "less traveled" symbolize in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

In Robert Frost's immensely-popular--though often misinterpreted--poem, "The Road Not Taken," the road "less traveled by" symbolizes a couple of things. First, this phrase symbolizes the desire to make choices for oneself. The narrator openly admits earlier in the poem that the two paths he encounters are equally well-traveled, but he later refers to the one he took as "less traveled." This is because he wants to make it seem as though he made a deliberate choice to be different than those who had come before him. The choice was not significant, but he wants to believe (or others to believe) it was important.

Second, the road "less traveled" symbolizes the possibilities lost by making a decision. The narrator wishes he could travel on both paths, but he must make a choice. He chooses one--on impulse--but continues to think about the opportunities he missed by not choosing the other path.

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In "The Road Not Taken," what do the two paths symbolize?

"The Road Not Taken" states that the two paths are just that: paths in a "yellow wood," one of which is more grassy and "wants wear." Typically, the symbolism is for choices in life that will have a profound effect on the future. The narrator is faced with two major options, each of which is "really about the same," but one of which he thinks is the more unusual path. Deciding to take the path "less traveled," or the path that most people avoid, the narrator muses that he might regret his decision later on. Since hindsight only comes from experience, the narrator cannot second-guess his choice now; in the future, he might look back "with a sigh" and wish that he was able to take the other path instead. Major decisions in life often lead to regret or second-guessing in hindsight, but at the moment of decision, one can only "look down the path as far" as possible, trying to predict if the decision will be the correct one. Without the power of prophecy, though, the narrator can only make what he thinks is the best decision at the time, no matter what happens in the future.

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In Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," what does the second road symbolize?

In "The Road Not Taken" the second road is a metaphor for the choices one has actually made in life: "I doubted if I should ever come back" the poet reflects, "knowing how way leads on to way...."

Often there comes a time in a person's life in which two appealing opportunites are placed before him/her. As one must, a choice is made, then other decisions follow the first until one is committed to a certain way of life.  To return to the initial crossroads is often impossible because of circumstances such as personal relationships, financial obligations, etc.: "And that has made all the difference."

As the author Thomas Wolfe remarked, "You can't go home again."  One cannot return to the original unencumbered, innocent state before one's choice of a "road."

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"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost talks about two roads. Are these roads mere roads or do they symbolize some aspect of a person's life?

Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken," talks of the narrator- possibly Frost himself- standing at a fork in the road in the middle of a wood, and contemplating which path he should take. He looks to one that has been often walked on and has seen a lot of wear. But then he looks to the other, one which is more grassy and fresh looking, that has received much less attention. Torn between the two, he stands there and ponders which path he should take- ultimately landing upon the less-explored territory. Upon reflection, Frost says in his final line "and that has made all the difference." 

Now, looking at this work at face value, it is indeed about a man travelling in the woods and talking about two roads. However, a poem- no matter the author- can never be taken at face value. As readers of poetry, we must always assume that poetry is rife with metaphors, imagery, and hidden themes and meanings begging to be uncovered- and it is our job to uncover them. 

With that said, Robert Frost's roads are not literal "roads," but rather an extended metaphor for the choice that any person must make as to what path they wish to take in life. In this famous poem, Frost explores the proverbial "fork in the road" that everyone faces, in which they must make a life-altering decision about who they are and what they expect out of life and how they will define themselves. In this poem, both the author and the reader find themselves contemplating "should I follow the beaten path? or shall I strike out on my own?" Ultimately, it is the decision between what is comfortable and secure, and what is new and unknown. Frost decides to start down the "path less travelled by," though not without some trepidation. He is aware that once he starts down this path, there may be no going back. He understands that he may regret his decision later, but it nevertheless needs to be made. Whatever path he takes, it will make all the difference in his life- good, bad, or indifferent. It is a common interpretation that Frost is advocating "the road less travelled by" as the better path of the two, indicating that the poem speaks of "not following the crowd," but this is only one interpretation. It can be argued that Frost valued the two paths before him equally- as they both have equal value- but merely had to make a choice. We can see the difficulty at this decision when he says in the first stanza:


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Frost contemplates these roads for a long time, and weighs his decision carefully- wishing he could take both. In so doing, he gives both equal credit and importance. And though he decides on one road, he says in the final stanza that he, "shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence," the "sigh" indicating that he may still wonder what would have happened or how his life could have been different if he had only taken the other path. 

Literature- poetry especially- is widely open to interpretation. A work can mean countless different things to many different people, and there is no real "right" answer so long as you can support your argument with the text. This interpretation of Frost's poem is only one of many, but one thing for certain is that the reader must never take a work of poetry at face value. There is almost always a deeper meaning.  

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What type of diction is used in "The Road Not Taken"?

Diction is the style of speaking or writing and the choice of words used. Diction can refer to whether a poem is formal, informal, colloquial, or uses slang. Formal diction tends to be deemed more serious, but the Romantic poets tried to use more informal diction to make serious statements about poetry and life. The diction (style) of a poet might also have to do with his/her era or his/her particular subject matter and tone. 

The tone and the poetic quality of this poem are very serious. But Frost does use simple or informal vocabulary to illustrate the simplicity of the theme: making difficult choices. He uses a formal style but with an informal landscape of the woods from which to derive the metaphor. 

Stylistically and poetically, the poem is formal. This poem was written in 1916 when other poets were abandoning classic poetic words like "hence" and avoiding classic techniques like subject/verb inversion: "long I stood." Frost uses a balance of a classic-sounding style with simplistic and informal word choices. So, it is serious but accessible. 

Some poets use "natural diction" which comes closer to natural speech. Here, Frost uses "poetic diction," that which more traditionally resembles poetic speech. Although the poem is about a natural and common event in life, Frost uses poetic speech to underscore the drama of his choice. For example, if he had opted for more natural diction in the last two lines, he might have said, "I will be saying this with a sigh / Sometime in the future." 

Word choices are informal but descriptive. The style is formal and serious. Frost really stresses the seriousness in the final lines when he repeats the pronoun "I": 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less traveled by, 

And that has made all the difference. 

He repeats the "I" to illustrate his hesitation and uncertainty, even in old age, that he will always be unsure if he had taken the road less traveled. 

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What is the structure of "The Road Not Taken"?

"The Road Not Taken" is a poem made up of four five-line stanzas. The rhyme scheme is ABAAB. For example, "wood," "stood," and "could" in the first, third, and fourth lines rhyme in the first stanza, while "both" and "growth" rhyme in the second and fifth lines of that stanza.

The meter is based on an iambic tetrameter scheme. Strictly speaking this means there are four two-beat syllables with the stress falling on the second syllable in each group. For instance, in line one of the poem, the beats fall as follows: "two ROADS di VERGED ..." However, Frost plays with this scheme slightly by adding an extra beat to every line, to create nine syllable lines. This means, for example, in line one, that "two ROADS di VERGED in a YEL low WOOD" with the beats "in a" quickly slurred together as unstressed beats. The same effect occurs with the "could not" in line two.

Frost also uses punctuation to add emphasis to two of the poem's lines. "Oh, I kept the first for another day!" ends with an exclamation point. This, along with the "Oh" at the beginning of the line, emphasizes the emotional intensity of this particular thought, underlining the (possibly humorous) regret the speaker feels at having to give up taking one of the roads. The second use of punctuation at the end of a line to create emphasis comes in the line:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

The long dash at the end emphasizes that even as he makes his decision, the speaker is still pausing and hesitating.

At a time when many poets were experimenting with poetic structure, Frost shows his control of his craft in his ability to use a very regular and traditional rhyme scheme and meter and make it look utterly effortless.

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What words or phrases in "The Road Not Taken" seem especially significant to you?

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
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.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I have highlighted the words and/or phrases which I find the most significant in understanding and appreciating the poem.

Firstly, the title. It is ironic that this should be the title of the poem, since its focus is on the road which has, in fact been taken. This is, however, significant since it indirectly emphasizes the point that the speaker wants to make - that he will always wonder what the outcome would have been if he had taken the alternative route. The argument holds true in both instances, for if he had taken the other route, the question would have been the same. The title and the poem itself speaks of the uncertainty facing us when we have to make a choice - we can never really know whether the choices we have made are the best or even the right ones, or not.

'Yellow wood' - the speaker paints a picture of probably mid-autumn - a time of dramatic change, epitomized especially by leaves changing color. This is a metaphor for the speaker who has reached a point in his life where he has undergone a change and therefore has to make a choice about where he wishes to go. The metaphor is extended throughout the poem for it deals with having to make a choice.

'... looked down one as far as I could ...' What is significant here is that this signifies the speaker's doubt. He is unsure of which direction to go and to find more surety, he wishes to see what the road holds ahead. Unfortunately, there's a turn and he can't see any further, but he has seen at least something. Once again, the metaphor also holds true in real life. We can surmise or make short-term predictions about our choices, but we cannot predict the final outcome as accurately as we would wish to. Somehow, this view later informs the speaker's decision to rather take the other route. It is subtly implied that he did not entirely like what he saw or that because he could not see far enough, he decided to allow destiny to decide his fate. He thus took the other road, which is not much different from the first. It is important to note, however, that he did not look down this particular road. The phrases highlighted in the second stanza supports what I mention above. Although there was not much difference between the roads, the speaker chooses the second alternative for it had a 'better claim' solely because 'it wanted wear'. One may conclude that this road also may have seemed a better option since it would be softer underfoot. Does this imply that the speaker chose the 'softer' option after what he had seen lay ahead (if only for a short distance) on the other path?

Oh, I kept the first for another day! The tone in this line sounds anguished, emphasized by 'oh' and the exclamation mark. It is as if the speaker regrets having made his initial decision. One may contend further that this anguish is supported by 'sigh' in the final stanza. The speaker may also be expressing wistfulness - what if I had taken the alternative route? There is, unfortunately, no turning back once the decision has been made, for the speaker realizes: I doubted if I should ever come back since, once a specific course is taken, it leads onto other different paths.

With a sigh expresses the speaker's contemplation regarding the choice that he has made. Many interpretations suggest that he is sad about having made this choice, but I disagree. The sigh expresses, the what if? aspect of his choice. Would things have been any different if he had taken the other road? There may be a suggestion of regret in that the choice that he had made, literally and figuratively, may not have had the outcome that he thought it would.

Somewhere ages and ages hence: The line suggests the eternal and universal application of the thoughts expressed by the speaker, for, having written this down, readers in the future will also wonder about the decisions they have made. The words of the speaker will hold for eternity. There are suggestions that this line also proclaims the idea of the poet's/speaker's undying spirit may recall this event far into the future, as Emily Dickinson does in her poem, 'Since I could not stop for Death' suggesting the idea of an eternal (spiritual) existence.

And that has made all the difference. I find this line remarkably vague. Is the suggestion that the speaker has made a choice, the difference? - i.e. that he had the courage to make a choice after all. Or is there something else? There is no definitive suggestion (except for 'sigh') of whether the choice was really the right one or not. The poet himself commented that the poem was 'tricky', so maybe he left us with this conundrum to obfuscate the issue even more.

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How does Robert Frost use alliteration and metaphors in "The Road Not Taken"?

The four stanzas of “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost revolve around the central extended metaphor of a fork in the road, which is compared to the choices that one must make in life. The speaker is a traveler in a “yellow wood,” and when he comes to that fork, he peers down one of the roads “as far as I could” to help him decide which road to take. At first the speaker states that the road he ends up choosing is “grassy and wanted wear.” One could interpret this part of the poem by saying that the speaker, by choosing the grassier, less traveled way, chooses the non-conventional way of life, refusing to follow the ways of others. The popular interpretation focuses on this as the central theme of the poem—that one must be the trailblazer and not just follow what other people do.

But we have to read closely and notice the interesting twist at the end of the second stanza, which seems to negate this interpretation.

Though as for that, the passing there

Had worn them really about the same.

Thus, the two roads don’t seem to be that different from each other after all. Frost uses some alliteration in this stanza, emphasizing the road “was grassy and wanted wear.” The use of those “w’s” gives the poems a hypnotic and soft quality that allows us to move through the lines quickly as do the “th” sounds in “though as for that, the passing there” and the lulling “l’s” in “lay” and “leaves”:

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

This lovely flow of sounds without any harsh alliteration to break up the lines emphasizes the idea that these roads are indistinguishable; nothing makes one road stand out more than the other. There is no marking from the harsh “black” “step.” (Notice the way the “b” and “ck” sounds in “black” and the “st” and “p” sounds in “step” break up the earlier softer alliteration.) So how do you choose which road to take?

This is the central theme of the poem—that when we come to a crossroads in our life, we must make a significant decision that will alter our lives forever. But, again, how do we choose? Although the speaker says that he can always come back at some point in the future and take that other path, “the road not taken,” he admits that he probably won’t ever come back to this particular fork in the road again.

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

Once you travel down a path, you tend to keep going rather than turn around and start over. Or, if you do try and start over, you are not the same person that you were when you first stared at that fork in the road. You can’t “come back.”

The speaker then performs another final shift at the end. He suddenly shifts forward in time, imagining himself in the future, looking back at this momentous decision.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence.

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

When the speaker sees himself in the future, reflecting on this moment, he revises the story, returning to his first interpretation, that the path he chose was the “less traveled” one. He wants to see himself in this trailblazing way, as one who did not follow others but instead did things his own way. And yet, what do we make of that line, that his choice “has made all the difference.” What kind of difference? Did he make the right choice? Or is he looking back with regret? And how do we interpret the title of the poem? Is “The Road Not Taken” referring to the road that he actually took (but wasn’t “taken” by others)? Or is the speaker focusing on that road that he didn’t take, wondering how his life would be different if he took that other road? And here’s yet another interpretation: is this a poem regretting not so much choosing this path or that path, but the fact that we must choose at all? Wouldn’t we rather have both roads, as is stated in the first stanza:

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler…

The final alliteration in the last stanza introduces the only harsh alliteration, with the repetition of the “s” sound in “sigh” and “somewhere.”

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence

This hissing quality to these words introduces a bitterness to this memory—the harshness of the idea that we cannot have both roads. We cannot enjoy all the world has to offer. We must travel this one life, one choice at a time.

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How does Robert Frost use alliteration and metaphors in "The Road Not Taken"?

The biggest metaphor in the poem is undoubtedly the roads as literal and figurative paths in life. Each path will lead to another, just as each decision we make in our lives leads to another, and eventually we end up far from where we started due to the long chain of events that follows each choice we make. The general mood created by the speaker's famous sigh in line 16 is sentimental and even nostalgic, which adds to the serious mood of the poem. 

The alliteration in the poem contributes to the lyrical quality of the poem. One of the only instances of Frost's alliteration is in line eight when the speaker says the path "wanted wear." However, instances of repeated consonants near each other also contribute to the poem's lyrical quality, like in line one with "yellow wood." 

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What is the significance of the speaker's choice of road in "The Road Not Taken"?

The speaker of “The Road Not Taken” is traveling through the woods when he faces a fork in the road. He is thus faced with making a decision, and he weighs his options carefully, trying to determine the best path to take.

The roads become a metaphor for those choices, and the significance of choosing the road is that the decision is final, so the speaker feels he must choose wisely. The speaker wants to know the eventual destination of those roads, so he looks down them as far as he possibly can. Yet he realizes that he can’t see where each road will eventually take him because they turn and bend into the undergrowth, obscuring his view. This fact reflects the reality that people often cannot know the full consequences and outcomes of their choices when they make them.

As mentioned before, the speaker feels that his choice is significant in part because he knows it is permanent. The speaker hopes to one day return to this fork in the road and choose the other path, but he realizes that his choice will likely take him down a series of roads after this one, and thus it’s highly unlikely that he will ever be able to return to this point in his life.

Another significance of the two roads is that, somewhat paradoxically, they are not very significant. Although the speaker feels that he must make his decision carefully, he acknowledges that the roads are essentially identical. As such, the decision is relatively meaningless, permanent though it may be.

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What's an example of figurative language in "The Road Not Taken"?

The two roads in the poem function as a symbol for any decisions that feel significant in our lives. A symbol has both literal and figurative meaning; the speaker literally does come to a fork in the road in the woods where he walks, and those roads also convey figurative choices. Just as we can imagine the immediate effects of our choices, the speaker can see a little ways down each road. They look a little different but "the passing there / Had worn them really about the same." In other words, about the same number of people have traveled each road (or made each choice).

The speaker dreams of coming back to try the first road again, "Yet knowing how way leads on to way," he doubts if he "should ever come back." One road will lead to another, which will lead to another—just like choices; one choice leads to another choice, and another, and it becomes impossible to go back and see what would have happened had we made a different decision.

In the end, the speaker plans to tell people that he "took the [road] less traveled," but he's already told us that the roads were both well-traveled, that they "equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black" on that particular morning. Why would he plan to lie? Perhaps he mirrors the human desire to believe that our decisions are of critical moment and do make a big difference in our lives. Perhaps he wants to keep that idea alive for whomever he plans to tell this story. Either way, the roads operate as a symbol: they are literal roads that physically exist, but they also refer, figuratively, to choices that we feel are important or significant in our lives.

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What synonyms does the author use for "the road" in "The Road Not Taken"?

One thing that Robert Frost does to avoid using the word "road" over and over again throughout this poem is to use pronouns instead of "road." For example, line five is as follows:

To where it bent in the undergrowth

"It" refers to one of the two roads. This pronoun is used again in line eight. In line ten, the narrator uses "them" instead of "roads."

For much of the rest of the poem, Frost substitutes various other words to stand-in for "road." The stand-in word is more often than not meant to be followed by the word "road," but Frost simply avoids using the word "road" and lets readers assume that the road is what he is talking about. For example, let's look at lines two and four:  

And sorry I could not travel both [roads]
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one [road] as far as I could
Frost does this dropping of "road" a few more times in the poem. Lines six, eleven, and thirteen do the same thing.  
Finally, in line nineteen, the narrator substitutes "road" for the word "one."
I took the one less traveled by
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What is the main message in "The Road Not Taken" that applies to both literal and figurative interpretations?

Whether you read the poem literally or metaphorically, it can be viewed as a poem about the missed opportunities and a sense of regret one experiences as a result of that.

Literally speaking, the poem is about a traveler who is standing in the woods, looking at two roads which diverge. He feels sad that he has to pick one path and no matter how long he looks down one path, he cannot predict what it holds. Even when he chooses the path which he calls "less traveled," he cannot suppress that feeling of regret arising from the fact that he will never be able to discover what the other path offered. Would it make his journey more eventful? Would he feel more fulfilled or not? He will never find out. And that knowledge evokes a sense of sadness.

Metaphorically speaking, the poem is about making an important choice in life. Once that choice is made, one's life will be altered for good. There is no going back. The speaker feels disappointed that choosing one path will always prevent him from discovering what the other path offers. He is aware that once the choice is made, he cannot change it. He has to stick with the choice he made.

Therefore, whether we read this poem literally or metaphorically, a sense of regret resulting from the knowledge that we have to choose between the opportunities we are offered ties both interpretations together.

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Are any words used in an unfamiliar or unexpected way in "The Road Not Taken"?

Here are some words in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost that are used in an unexpected way for a modern audience:

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" : The phrase "yellow wood" is figurative. If taken literally, it would mean wood that itself was yellow. However, by using this imagery, the unexpected phrasing instead calls to mind a forest in autumn, where the leaves and light have been turned golden by the season. 

"Though as for that the passing there" : This is an interesting use in that Frost uses a gerund, or a verb form of a word used as a noun, to refer to other travelers on the path. Instead of explaining that other people had used both paths, he makes the use of the paths a state of being that seems more like a natural event than caused by people. 

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Are any words used in an unfamiliar or unexpected way in "The Road Not Taken"?

In The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost the narrator reveals his confusion in the contradictory expression of his feelings. The poem may be about one occasion when making a choice can change a life (or perhaps not, such is the ambiguity of the poem), but it also represents far more than an isolated episode and reveals the effects of choice on life's journey as a whole. Frost wants the reader to recognize that not all decisions should be considered equally and any attempt to do so results in a kind of uncertainty such as the narrator must now face as he tries to persuade himself that his decision has "made all the difference." Based on the rest of the poem and how similar the paths are, being "really about the same," this is unlikely. This makes the context very important in understanding Frost's intentions. 

Frost talks about being "one traveler" and having the capacity to experience both choices which would require a far more adventurous spirit than this narrator possesses. Out of context, this could be the beginning of a journey in which a traveler relishes the opportunities that being in a position to make a choice brings. However, in the context of the poem, and for the narrator, the choice causes a dilemma and is not actually appreciated. It only creates stress and a mood of disappointment because the narrator does not know what he might be missing and it is unlikely that he will ever know. This reveals the personal aspects of this poem and introduces a satirical edge which may be overlooked by a reader who wants to use the poem for inspiration, hoping that his or her decisions will also make a "difference."

The difference that it has made can also be interpreted independently and unexpectedly to reveal that this decision is not about how the decision has changed the narrator's life but how it has changed his outlook and perhaps prevented him from making the most of his choice, choosing rather to dwell on missed opportunities ( as he "doubted" the effects of his choice anyway). The narrator's mention that he "took the one less traveled by" is also more about his attempts to convince himself that he made the right decision. As the words themselves are not particularly poetic, Frost leaves it to the reader to put it into his own context and use these words (the same, traveler, all the difference, less traveled and doubted) and interpret them to suit his own individual circumstances.

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How do poetic devices in "The Road Not Taken" enhance its meaning?

"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost combines traditional poetic form with colloquial diction. The main elements of the poem's poetic form are use of iambic tetrameter with frequent inversions and anapestic substitutions and its rhyme scheme and stanzaic form.

The poem is divided into four five-line stanzas rhymed ABAAB. Most lines are end-stopped rather than enjambed and use monosyllabic rhyme words. The stanzaic structure helps guide the reader through the poem, creating clear distinctions between the changes in the narrator's focus. The first stanza tells of the narrator being confronted by a choice between two roads, the second of the narrator choosing the one less traveled, the third reflects back on the narrator's choice, and the final stanza tells of the consequences of the choice. 

The use of conversational diction and frequent rhythmical variations enhances the universality of the poem. Rather than this being a narrator claiming some special or exceptional sensibility, we get a sense of an ordinary person going out for an ordinary walk, suggesting that the poem has meaning for all our lives, not just those of people with unique poetic sensibilities. 

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How is the road a metaphor in "The Road Not Taken"?

Robert Frost denied that his poem "The Road Not Taken" had the deep, existential meaning that many have wished to give it, insisting that he had written his verse in order to "fool his way around" in a teasing reflection on his friend Edward Thomas, with whom he took walks frequently. On such strolls, Thomas would castigate himself for not having selected another path no matter which way they went. And, yet, despite Thomas's own characterization of the poem, "The Road Not Taken" as "the fun of the thing," it became very popular as a poem of deep meaning. 

Interestingly, Frost himself contributed to the idea that there can, indeed, be a deeper significance clothed in metaphor in his poem as he wrote in one of his notebooks,

Nothing ever so sincere
That unless it's out of sheer
Mischief and a little queer [odd]
It won't prove a bore to hear.

So, the concept of "many a word of truth is spoken in jest" may, indeed, exist in Frost's poem about two roads. Alluding to these thoughts of Frost's own, the reader can, then, reasonably interpret the ambivalence in choice of paths that the persona of "The Road Not Taken" experiences as a metaphor for the indecisiveness of man that often proves tragic or, in the very least, disconcerting. And, of course, the "road" can be perceived as the "road" of life; that is, the many choices, or paths of action in a person's life.

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How does Robert Frost use language features to illustrate the journey theme in "The Road Not Taken"?

Robert Frost's choice of language illustrates the concept/theme of a journey in his poem "The Road Not Taken." Word choice is a delicate art in poetry. Poets, and authors alike, pay close attention to how words sound when spoken aloud. They choose to use alliteration or assonance based upon how they wish a line of poetry to sound to the reader and listener. 

The sound of words is also important when illustrating the importance of a concept or a theme. In regards to Frost's poem, his word choice illuminates the idea of the journey (in both direct and indirect ways). 

For example, the following words illustrate Frost's direct nature regarding the journey: travel, passing, lead, took, and trodden. 

As for Frost's indirect way of illustrating a journey, the following words/phrases illustrate this: wanted wear (illustrating something which wants to be traveled upon) and come back (illustrating a journey which has already taken place). 

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What's an example of figurative language in "The Road Not Taken"?

This poem is an example of an extended metaphor.

A metaphor is a comparison between two things that are not alike. In this case, a road and life are being compared. In this extended metaphor, the speaker never actually makes a direct comparison between life and the road.  In other words, he does not say life is a road.  Yet the entire poem implies it.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Although there is some argument about the interpretation of this last line, one can argue either way that it is about life.  Frost may be arguing that we should go our own way, or he may be arguing that it does not matter where we go.  Either way, the concept of road as a metaphor for life continues.

In life, as in roads, you have to make decisions.  The traveler came to a fork in the road, as we face choices in life, and once he chose he knew he could never go back.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

In the end, the speaker realizes, once he makes his choice he will have to stick with it.  Choice made, he goes on with his life.  Life is a path, and there is a never-ending amount of decisions that need to be made.  

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What are one or two instances of a metaphor that is used in "The Road Not Taken"?

The extended metaphor of this poem is that of a road in the forest which forks into two paths; the path is the journey of life, and the forks are symbolic of the choices people make (or don't make) as they live out their invidividual lives.  The most excruciating part of making a choice, for many people, lies in what they may miss when forsaking the other choice--in other words, what they miss on "the road not taken."  Frost describes that feeling of trying to predict how the choice one leans away from might turn out:  "long I stood/ And looked down one as far as I could/To where it bent in the undergrowth."  He also speaks metaphorically of how one will likely not get a chance to undo what choices he or she makes:  "Yet knowing how way leads onto way/I doubted that I should ever come back." 

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What are one or two instances of a metaphor that is used in "The Road Not Taken"?

To my way of thinking, the whole poem is metaphorical.

If you take the poem literally, there is very little metaphor in the poem.  The only place where you can really argue that metaphor is being used in this line:

Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

This is metaphorical because he's not really saying that he's going to keep following various roads and be unable to ever return to the spot where he stands.

But really, the whole poem is a metaphor.  The idea of forks in roads is just a metaphor for decisions that have to be made in life.  They are like forks in the road in that we have to choose which direction to go.

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