On “The Road Not Taken” Most people believe that “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost was written to inspire people to be different, and to not follow the majority.
However, the poem was actually written to gently tease one of Frost’s good friends, and fellow poet, Edward Thomas.Frost and Thomas would take walks in the woods together, and Thomas would take Frost down one path and later regret not choosing a different path.This would lead one to believe that Frost is actually ridiculing the action of regretting decisions.Considering this pert nit background information, the poem’s meaning can be quite contrary to popular belief.It guides the reader from the idea that Frost wants you to differentiate yourself, to a concept of perseverance and self confidence.
Upon further analysis of the poem, more irony is unveiled in both the title and the poem itselfInitially “The Road Not Taken” is quite stereotypical and inspirational in manner.At first glance the poem radiates a feeling that it’s alright to take the road less traveled, and that good fortune may follow from making seemingly unorthodox decisions.Frost illustrates an idea of individualism in the last two lines, “I took the one less traveled by/ and that has made all the difference” (19-20).
In the last stanza of the poem, the speaker explains that many years later he will tell the story of how taking the road less traveled has changed his life.Viewed from an analytical standpoint many examples of subtle irony can be found. Frost’s choice of words in the title is very peculiar.It seems as though Frost purposely chose the word “taken”.If the poem was meant to be inspirational, “chosen” would be a better fit for the title.The word “chosen” would clarify that the decision was deliberately made to go a certain way.However the word “taken” makes it sound like there was no other option.
Although a decision was made to take a certain path, it is ironic that Frost described both paths as being practically the same.Perhaps Frost used the word “taken” instead of “chosen” since there was virtually no choice to be made. The way the poem has been remembered, is that one should follow one’s own heart, and not what other people do.After only a brief review, it is conceivable how someone would assume the popular belief associated with the poem.However under a closer review there are many contradictions hidden within the poem.
First the key concept towards the poem’s popular belief is that of choosing something different.At the very end of the poem Frost writes, “I took the one less traveled by/ and that has made all the difference” (19, 20), giving the reader the impression that a rebellious decision has been made.Frost contradicts himself earlier by describing the two roads as being about the same.Towards the beginning of the poem, at the end of the second stanza Frost writes, “Though as for the passing there/ Had worn them really about the same” (9, 10), and also at the beginning of the third stanza “And both that morning equally lay/ In leaves no step had trodden black” (11, 12), this leads the reader to believe that there isn’t a big difference between the two roads, and that there is no reason to believe that one is less traveled than the other. Frost is actually saying that neither of the two roads had been traveled a lot, and uses the colors of the leaves on the ground as evidence. When looking at the poem in a different light, the idea of choosing a road less traveled is dismissed.
So the speaker does not know which road is less traveled, and just simply declares that the road he took was less traveled.The decision to take one road over the other had nothing to do with how much it had been traveled.Thus the poem contradicts itself once more. One of the biggest contradictions in the poem is the “sigh” in the last stanza, “I shall be telling this with a sigh/ somewhere ages and ages hence” (16, 17).If the poem was supposed to show the good in going your own way, then why would the speaker be telling his story years later with a sigh?This could lead one to believe that the speaker did not take the path less traveled.The speaker.