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The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Transcript of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost
1874 - 1963
Born in San Francisco
Attended Dartmouth & Harvard, never graduated
Moved to England in 1912 with his family
Returned to America when WWI began & launched career
Frost's poems usually represented a wide range of human experience in his poems.
Frost's life was plagued with tragedy beginning with his father passing from tuberculosis when frost was 11, to his wife and children suffering from various mental disorders and medical issues.
The tragedies most likely influenced much of his poetry throughout his life.
Speaker is faced with 2 identical roads
Unsure of which to take, tries to find differences
Promises to return and take the other road as well
Tries to justify his/her decision
The "right" choice does not exist.
Two identical roads, only differentiation is caused by speaker's perception
Our decisions are the ones that shape us, not the other way around
Older person reflecting on his/her decisions
"ages and ages hence"
First person point of view
"sorry" / "doubted"
Not satisfied with the decision
Tries to convince people otherwise
"Sorry I could not travel both"
"I shall be telling this with a sigh"
Character, conflict (internal), plot, setting
a forest during an autumn morning
"Two roads diverged in a
4 stanzas, 5 lines each (quintain)
Each stanza represents a step in decision-making
Decision is presented, choices are analyzed, decision is made, thoughts are described afterward
| in a
And sorry I could not travel
And be one traveler, long I
And looked down one as far as I
To where it bent in the
Then took the other, as just as
And having perhaps the better
Because it was grassy and wanted
Though as for that the passing
Had worn them really about the
And both that morning equally
In leaves no step had trodden
Oh, I kept the first for another
Yet knowing how way leads on to
I doubted if I should ever come
I shall be telling this with a
Somewhere ages and ages
Two roads diverged in a wood, and
I took the one less traveled
And that has made all the
Variant of iambic tetrameter
Includes anapestic meter
Strays off course, comparable to what the speaker claims to do
ABAAB rhyme scheme
2 possible sound paths
End rhymes are masculine
Final line is an exception
Emphasis on "difference"
"Because it was grassy and
Draws attention to personification
Allows the line to flow smoothly, appeals to listeners
s made all the difference"
s for th
t the p
Flows easily, brings focus to the other road
Other road becomes appealing as well
Emphasizes outcome of narrator's decision
Contrast of nice sounds with the regretful tone
Figures of Speech
The two roads symbolize the choices we are forced to make in life
Destination of the roads is unknown, similar to the outcomes of our decisions
Do you think taking every decision seriously is beneficial or detrimental? Why?
"Because it was grassy and
Roads are inanimate
Incapable of expressing desire
Bridges the gap between symbolic roads and the thoughts of a conscious being
ages and ages
Exaggeration of a period in time
Expresses ability of regret to stay with you for incredibly long periods of time
Used to establish the setting
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood"
"And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black"
Comparable to New Hampshire's autumns
Common inspiration for Robert Frost
Describes the two paths for justification
"it bent in the undergrowth"
"it was grassy and wanted wear"
"I shall be telling this with a sigh"
Sigh of regret
Disappointment becomes audible for the audience, allows for a closer connection
What is the significance of the poem's title?
("The Road Not Taken")
The Deconstructionist Critical Approach
Undermines the stability of text
Texts are self-contradicting
Meanings are relative, not absolute
Title: "The Road
Ambiguous, can refer to 2 situations
Regret about not taking the other road
Justifying the choice of a road that is "less traveled by"
"I shall be telling this with a
Sigh of relief
Satisfied with his/her final decision
s made all the
Assonance can signify comfort or a soothing feeling
"Difference" represents a binary opposition; helps us define something by what it is not
Possibility of a mocking tone
For every event, there are conditions that could cause no other event
Would the narrator have been in the same situation if he had taken the other road?
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; 5
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, 10
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. 15
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. 20
Te traveler comes to a fork in the road where he must choose which path to follow. He would take both if he could, but that isn't possible. He chooses to observe one path as far as he can. His choice represents opportunity costs that stem from making decisions.
The traveler chooses to take the opposite path of the one he looked at. He then explains how even though he perceived the path that he took to be better, they both appear to be worn to the same extent. (Human usage)
He again explains how both paths are equal. He posits how he kept the first path for another day, but then says that he is unable to control his journey in life, and doubts that he will be in this position again to take that path.
"Sigh" signifies regret. He is pondering the opportunity costs that he paid when choosing the other path. He explains how he took the less frequent path, and how that has had a tremendous impact on him.
Opportunity costs: What you must give up in order to get something. There are an infinite amount of opportunities that one misses out on when they make a decision. The traveler's opportunity costs of not taking the other road are unknown, however he feels that his choice is very detrimental: "And that has made all the difference."
The Butterfly Effect: Theory that the flutter of a butterfly's wing can cause a tornado. In other words, one small occurrence can have a bigger effect that one can think. The traveler's decision to take a certain road, which seems to be a casual and inconsequential choice, turns out to be quite crucial to his life: "Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back."
Contradiction: Frost frequently makes a statement and then contradicts himself within the same stanza. i.e. "And both that morning equally lay"..."I took the one less traveled by"
A Road Not Taken
describes every decision that one makes in life. Should one choose to take the "road less traveled" and be a leader not a follower, or should one take the other path? No matter what decision one makes, there will be imminent consequences of that decision that can affect one immensely.