Analysis “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost
How it works
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” (Frost) The poem “The Road Not Taken,” written by Robert Frost, is similar to my own life where I had to make an important choice. Frost’s poem allows readers to relate to the speaker with the concept of having to make choices throughout our lives. As well as allow readers to interpret the poem in their own way, whether it be a happy ending or a regretful ending. Like in Frost’s poem, I had two choices presented to me that had to be decided, challenges that arose, and an outcome that changed my life for the better.
“The Road Not Taken” is one of many classic poems written by Robert Frost. Published in 1916, “The Road Not Taken” was the first poem published in Frost’s Mountain Interval, a book of poetry. Themes include exploration, dreams, and realizing how our choices affect the outcome of our lives. The poem starts off with the speaker, who seems to be on a walk in yellow colored woods has come to a part in the trail that has two paths. The yellow in the woods is interpreted as a caution or as a yield to make the speaker think about his choices of the two paths. He looks down one path as far as he can; which is symbolic to when we look into the future and although we can see to a certain point, we cannot completely see what exactly lies ahead. The first path is described as one that has been taken a lot and is worn whereas the second one looks grassy and wanted to be worn. He decides to go with the second path and to save the first for another day but stops to think – knowing how our decisions effect our lives, he will not be able to go back to the first path. The poem comes to an end with the speaker sighing and seems to be him reflecting on his decision. “I took the less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” (Frost) is a complex ending to this poem and is still talked about to this day. Some readers think because the speaker is sighing, he is regretting his decision. Whereas others think he is sighing with relief. There was a time in my life when I had to choose between two paths.
How it works
Like in Frost’s poem, I had my own two paths to choose from. In 2018, I was performing in my district’s musical production of “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”. It was my last year of eligibility since I was a senior. Sometimes, there is drama in the drama program. I have had my fair share, but this was the worst I have experienced. I had lost touch with someone in the program who had been my best friend – we were both auditioning for the role of Cinderella. In the end, she got the role over me and then she continued to not only rub in my face but cyber-bully me. I had lost a lot of my friends who were involved in the program at this point in my life, for one reason or another, so I did not really have anyone. At this time in my life, my grandmother was extremely sick, and we were not sure how much longer she had to live. Between the constant bullying and the way things were turning out with my grandmother, I had started to become depressed. I used to enjoy going to rehearsals – that auditorium was basically my second home, but the place that once brought me such joy became a place I dreaded, where I felt so alone. One night, I came home from rehearsal feeling worse than any other day… I called my director to speak with him about how I was feeling about the bullying and that I was to the point that I felt I had nowhere else to turn besides quitting. I now had to make the choice of whether I continued to push through the pain and stay or run from it all and quit. A few days later while visiting my grandmother, she passed away right in front of me.
That day will forever haunt me – it is one thing to lose someone but to see them leave right in front of your eyes… that will never go away. These challenges brought me to a point where I had to choose between staying in the program or having to quit. Like the first path the speaker was going to take, quitting seemed like the only or right choice. It was the easy way out. However, someone came into my life that made me think about my choices, just like the symbolic yellow trees. That person is now one of my best friends and his name is Reed. The day I was going to choose the path to quit, he started talking to me at rehearsal and our friendship grew from there. The more he talked to me, the less I wanted to quit and the more I wanted to stay because I finally had someone who enjoyed my company as much as I did theirs. From that day on, our friendship grew tremendously. He pulled me from my depression and brought me some of the happiest days of my life. If I had not stopped to think, I would have chosen the wrong path and would have sighed in regret later in life.
As mentioned earlier, “The Road Not Taken” has a complex ending that to this day, is still a contentious topic. Some interpret the poem to have a negative and regretful ending whereas others interpret it to have a positive and content ending. The way I interpreted the poem was that of a positive and content ending. Although the speaker wonders how his life would’ve turned out if he had taken the original path, he sighs with relief when he is reminiscing on where the path he did take, has brought him. Like in Frost’s poem, I ended up choosing the right path. I chose to stay with the program and face my problems rather than run from them. I wanted to finish out my senior year and my last high school show because I do love to perform on stage. If I had not made this choice, I would not have the friendship I do with Reed. If it had not been for him, I would have taken the wrong path. He is like the yellow in the forest – he was my yielding point that made me stop and think about my choices. Without him, I would not have made it through the loss of my grandmother, and I would have stopped doing something I enjoyed so much. He saved me from not only making a decision I would have regretted for the rest of my life, but he also saved me from myself. I have him to thank for helping me make the right choice just like the speaker took the right road.
Frost writes “I took the less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” (Frost), by choosing not to quit or the less traveled by, that decision had made all the difference in my life and where I am now. If I hadn’t stopped because of my yellow yielding point, I would’ve been sighing in regret rather than in content. Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” continues to be a popular poem throughout classes because of its themes of exploration, dreams, and realizing how our choices affect the outcome of our lives.
- Frost, Robert. “The Road Not Taken.” Poetry Foundation. poetryfoundation.org/resources/ learning/core-poems/detail/44272 Accessed 23 Mar. 2019.