“The Road Not Taken” (analysis)

Making life-changing decisions can be very stressful. Choosing the wrong one can become a huge regret and weight in your life. In “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost the speaker must choose between two roads that symbolize major decisions in his life. He is torn between which road is the best choice for his life. It is autumn in the speaker’s life in which he must choose a path to take. The speaker then reflects on his decision and realizes how it has made a substantial difference in his life. He thinks about how although he made the wrong decision it is too late for him to go back and change his life. Frost uses setting and imagery to help readers envision the two roads and the events that follow his decision. Imagery often appeals to readers’ five senses. Helping them create a vivid mental snapshot of the incident being portrayed in the poem.

Like many poems, Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” uses imagery to help the reader paint a vivid picture in their mind of the setting. The first line says, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (1). From this, I pictured the woods with two paths to be traveled. When I think of “yellow woods” I think of fall when the leaves are starting to die and fall off the trees and the seasons are transitioning to winter. If that is the case the transition from fall to winter would most likely symbolize that the speaker is maybe middle-aged and is moving on into his elderly years. Just like the seasons, his life is coming to an end. The way the speaker talks in the last stanza, “I shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence” (16-17), also makes me think the reader is growing old. He wants his story to be remembered by future generations and for people to learn from his decision.

Between the two roads, the speaker chooses the lesser traveled, “Because it was grassy and wanted wear;/ Though as for that, the passing there/ Had worn them really about the same,” (8-10). This image shows how the speaker wanted to be different from everyone who had come across the roads before him, even though the paths had been traveled about the same. He wanted the individuality and the adventure aspects of his decision. Later the speaker says, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-/ I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference” (18-20). From this, I can interpret that the speaker regrets his decision. Earlier in the poem he says, “I shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence” (16-17). From this, I think of the speaker sighing out of sorrow. He continues to tell his story and to have his story be told to future generations to prevent them from making the same mistake he did when he chose the lesser traveled path.

Frost says, “And both that morning equally lay/ In leaves no step had trodden black,” (11-12). This quote refers to the paths as being equal all though they both have different outcomes. The leaves on the paths haven’t turned black from steps continuously crushing them. Both the paths are fresh and haven’t been overturned by people making the decision harder not being able to follow previous travelers.

In “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost the speaker is faced with a life-changing decision to make. He chooses the less common path and regrets his decision. He wants people to remember his story and learn from his mistakes. Frost used imagery in the setting to help the reader envision the situation the speaker was in and the events that followed. This poem reflects how we are constantly making decisions and we may regret some but all we can do is look back at them and reflect. The main theme of this poem is that people are confronted with decisions then are defined by those decisions.