Posted at 11.19.2018
Good poets start using a variety of poetic elements to make a literary masterpiece. Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" is a vintage example of the interaction of varied elements. This poem includes a vast selection of poetic elements including irony, symbolism, ambiguity, and conflict and retrospective patterning. Frost uses these poetic elements to help create the theme in "The Road Not Used. "
Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is a favorite poem that is adored by many. Andrew Lakritz, a literary critic notes, "It is a comforting poem, since it seems so clear, and its own lovely bottom line, offers a wonderful self-congratulatory kernel of wisdom for the schoolchild to take home" (211). On the surface the poem appears to be a classic dilemma of making options in life however, a variety of interpretations can be produced from the poem, leading the audience to have a problem with Frost's central so this means of the poem. Directly analyzing the irony, symbolism, ambiguity, turmoil and retrospective patterning within "The Road Not Taken" can help show the true theme of the poem.
Faggen is convinced, "THE STREET Not Considered" "can be an ironic commentary on the autonomy of choice" (par. 1). Plenty of irony is inlayed in the poem, but it is difficult to identify and interpret the irony on the first reading. After several reads it becomes apparent the great amount of irony Frost utilizes in the poem. Katherine Kearns considered the irony found in the final stanza of the poem "lethal" (37). Kearns thinks the previous stanza is a prediction into the future and the truth is foreshadowed in today's by the poem itself: "the narrator understands where he will result in, and 'all the difference' can have made no difference" (37). This leads the reader to believe the traveler's choice can make little difference in the rest of his life. The tourist made a selection, it turned out to be a great choice, and he proceeded to reside in his life. The irony is the traveler believed that the decision would make a big difference, and that he spent so much time making the choice hoping it would change lives, as well.
The name, "The Road Not Considered" is ironic in itself. "THE STREET Less Traveled" is a far more appropriate subject. However, Frost ironically chose to use the subject to emphasize the road the narrator didn't choose. In an address at a college or university wedding ceremony, Susan Dentzer points out that she believed Frost utilized verbal irony in his name to express his idea "that the streets we don't choose to go down in life have as much of a job in shaping the span of our lives as the ones that we do choose" (par. 16).
Symbolism is portrayed throughout the poem. One of these of symbolism is Frost describing a highway in the woods to signify the options in life. The narrator involves a fork in the street that "diverged in a yellowish hardwood" (Frost, "Road" 1), and contemplates which street for taking. This depiction symbolizes the choices in life people face, and exactly how they make those selections. The narrator in the poem selects the street "less journeyed" and confirms it makes a notable difference in his life once he finds his vacation spot (Frost, "Road" 19). However, Frost never talks about the difference it made; he allows the audience decide why the street "less journeyed" made a notable difference (Frost, "Road" 19). Another example of symbolism in the poem is situated in how the narrator makes a decision which road to consider. His decision is situated generally on the deterioration of the road, and this presents how hastily people make important decisions in life. George Nitchie feels that although in "THE STREET Not Considered" making a decision appears to be portrayed as "whimsical and unmotivated" the narrator is aware that each choice has unidentified results (160). Life is packed with alternatives and there are many choices people must make as soon as made, there is no undoing those decisions. There is no redoing the past encounters except in recollections, if they are packed with happiness or regret, at the choices made and the road that was chosen to travel in life. Robert Faggen sums it up well when he claims "THE STREET Not Taken" reminds us of the "repercussions of the basic principle of selection in all respects of life" (par. 1).
Ambiguity is found in a number of areas in the poem. One of these of ambiguity is when the narrator first says the street he takes is "grassy and wished wear" (Frost, "Road" 8). However, he continues on to say in the next range that the streets were really worn a comparable. There is absolutely no reason about the ambiguity in these claims, even though the narrator says it made a notable difference in the end. The reader will not know if the street chosen was the road less journeyed or not.
Another example of ambiguity is available when the narrator says, "Oh I maintained the first for another day" (Frost, "Road" 13). Then the narrator says down the road in the poem that he'll probably never come this way again. Also, the narrator says he spends quite a while looking at both highways, and wished he could take both roads, but helps you to save one highway for a later trip. Reading these assertions in context, they make little sense. However, knowing the statements are ambiguous helps the reader recognize that Frost may indeed be trying to demonstrate that the narrator does not have any idea where he is heading or how his life find yourself. The narrator cannot seem sensible of his life, and so, Frost utilizes ambiguities in the poem that do not seem sensible, as well.
The ambiguities in this poem create this poem interesting and cause the audience to question the poet's meaning. Even though the poem appears brief and clear-cut, the ambiguities embedded in the poem allow Frost to improve questions in the reader's brain, making the poem more complicated than it appears. Frost's ability to utilize ambiguity really helps to add intrigue and puzzle to his work. Frost once said a poem "reaches its best when it's a tantalizing vagueness" ("Characters 588).
Conflict is another poetic aspect within "The Road Not Taken". The primary turmoil revolves around the narrator's inability to choose which street for taking. The narrator can pick the common, easy street that will ensure success but won't automatically bring fulfillment; or choose the "less journeyed" road that'll be more challenging journey with unknown implications (Frost, "Road" 19). Most readers of the poem can quickly relate to the narrator's issue because this conflict is common in everyday living.
Frost also offers an underlying issue in the poem.
There is also another primary conflict found in the poem as well. The narrator notes he probably will never go this way again. Is there conflict in his life that will keep him from touring this way again? Is he old, and on one of the last journeys of his life? The difficulty of this poem sneaks up on the audience, and the greater they understand the complexities, the greater perplexing the poem becomes.
A poetic factor found in the closure of "THE STREET Not Used" is retrospective patterning. Retrospective patterning is when the author places a term or a expression by the end of the poem that leads the reader to reconsider their original interpretation of the poem (Feeler, par 1). Frost used this technique when he put the term "sigh" in the first word of the last stanza ("Highway" 16). The usage of that one expression induced me to question my initial interpretation of the theme and prompted me to reread the poem lots of times before grasping a firm knowledge of the theme.
Some critics find Frost's work simple and easy to understand. However, others dig deeper into the words and create deeper meanings. Peter Davison once mentioned, "Even today, in classrooms and libraries, students and teachers alike struggle with that sweetly puzzling poetry: the enigmatic interpretation concealed within simple terms, the paradoxical and amazing meaning couched in traditional form" (113). Thus, the components of this poem are definitely more than what they seem, and so is the best theme of the work. Frost buries many elements in only a few brief lines, even though they may seem simple at first glance, underneath they are really much more intricate and interesting.
It is interesting to notice that Frost made a notation about the poem in his journal, noting he actually published it with a friend at heart. A Frost biographer noted "That is more about a good friend of mine, [Edward Thomas, as Frost observed on other situations]" (Romine 37). Thus, Frost possessed a real person and a real situation at heart when he composed the poem, which is yet another important factor. Frost often wrote poetry with real situations and friends in mind, which helps give a real, natural quality to his writing, and makes it appear more concrete to the audience. Lee Jacobus composed in his commentary that Frost's work is seen as a "concrete experiences" (573).
"The Road Not Taken" can be an enduring poem formulated with a smorgasbord of poetic elements. The interaction of these elements really helps to make this poem a genuine masterpiece. Jacobus thinks, "The achievement of a poem results from the refined cooperation of most of its elements" (445). To effectively interpret the true so this means or theme of a poem every factor must be analyzed. After analyzing the poetic elements found in "The Road Not Taken", I've established the next interpretation of the theme. Life is a journey full of selections that will determine an unseen future. The choices though often nearly identical lead to different destinies. Contentment or regret will be dependant on each individual's personal representation on the choices made and the street chosen throughout their journey.