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Robert Frost’s the Road Not Taken

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Poetry Essay

                  ENGL 102: Composition and Literature


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Thesis Statement and Outline:

Thesis Statement: Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” paints the visual picture depicting that one-day man can be faced with what appears to be a seemingly impossible decision. Once that decision is made, he is forced to live with the consequences of that decision whether good or bad.

  1. Setting, Theme, and Mood
  1. Opens up in a forest surrounded by trees filled with yellow leaves. (“The Road Not Taken,” line 1)
  2. Too much reluctance and indecisiveness can often cause one much sadness and regret. (lines 18-19)
  3. Solemn yet seemingly decisive in the beginning, only to end with a sigh of sadness, a stutter, and much feeling of disappointment. (lines 1-10, 18-19)
  1. This poem contains much symbolism.
  1. “Two roads” can mean two choices (lines 1, 18)
  2. Coolness of autumn could mean loneliness (line 1)
  3. The Worn Path could symbolize the obvious choice many may have made prior. (line 8)
  1. My interpretation/ Conclusion  
  1. Very relatable to all readers. (lines 1-19)
  2. The character made no choice at all (lines 16-20)
  3. Warning readers about indecisiveness (lines 16-17)
  4. Only God truly knows the right or wrong choice. (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV)

                Poetry Essay

Robert Frost is undoubtedly one of Americas greatest poets of all time being the recipient of four Pulitzers in his lifetime. One of his most famous works of art is titled “The Road Not Taken.” In this poem, he paints a visual picture depicting that one-day man can face what appears to be a seemingly impossible decision. Living with the consequences of that decision can later prove to be a challenge.

Right away in the two opening lines of the first stanza, it is clear that a decision is in the process of being made. Through the use of creative imagery, the narrator creates an autumn setting with the words “yellow leaves” (Frost, 1916). In the second line, the narrator is already expressing regret by apologizing stating “And sorry I could not travel both” (Frost, 1916).  After reading through the first stanza, the apparent theme of this poem is about an individual that is very reluctant and indecisive about the decision before him. At first, it seems the narrator is well on his way to achieving that goal by evaluating both choices. But further down in the first three lines of the last stanza it is seen where there is a sigh that is quickly followed by a stutter. Together that sets a sad mood for this poem coupled with regret and disappointment.

Much symbolism is evident throughout the poem. Where the narrator speaks about looking over the “two roads” that could symbolize the comparing of two choices in life. Just like in the poem these options can be very similar in nature but have two very different outcomes. When the narrator refers to it being the autumn time, which is a cold time of year, that coolness could be symbolic to a feeling of loneliness that some experience during this period of decision making. Considering that fact that autumn precedes winter, where many things die, could also symbolize that this is a decision made near the end of life. That is a time where much reflection is encouraged and possibly much regret experienced. At first, glance when the narrator describes one of the paths as “worn” it indicates that one of the paths may have been what previous travelers considered an “obvious choice” in comparison to the road that was “grassy and wanted wear” (Frost, 1916). After further examination, there is, in fact, no difference between the two. That discovery brings us back to the two choices having little to no difference at all.



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