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”The Road Not Taken” Literary Analysis

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 624
  • Category: Symbolism

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Symbolism can transform a mere rock into pure diamond. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, presents the theme of the universal and inevitable functions of choice and time. Frost successfully supports this theme through vivid and continuous symbolism, among the entire story.

Initially, Frost introduces an idea that every decision consists of only two options: to do something or not to do something, each with certain repercussions. In the beginning, the speaker is in the woods and ahead of him are two separate roads. Each road symbolizes a single choice. This limits the speaker’s decision to only a pair of options; in support of the concept.

Next, Frost demonstrates the natural tendency to analyze a situation before making a decision. The speaker states, “… long I stood, and looked down one as far as I could, to where it bent in the undergrowth.” Provided as much effort that the speaker had devoted to gaining intuition of the road, eventually what was visible had veered out of sight. This symbolizes the limit of insight of the future and preparation.

Thirdly, Frost thoroughly describes the many complexities involved in a single decision, through symbolism. The physical content and condition of a path, such as grass, leaves, or rocks represent insight; and symbolizes provided information of the choice, such as encounters or previous results or methods. Confrontations and slight consequences occur in the form of tall grass and footprints. The common road is filled with scenery, and visible from a great distance; making it more appealing. This road symbolizes the convenience and ease in anticipating future scenarios and difficulties, when choosing to do a specific action. However, when choosing not to do a specific action, the amount of possibilities is astronomical; liable for any instances except those of the opposite choice. The less traveled road symbolizes this improbability of recording or examining the nearly endless factors applicable; in result, insight is lost and therefore the road is barren. The speaker states, “Then took the other just as fair, though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same.”

It now becomes apparent that the very start of each road is similar, and has been worn “about the same.” This symbolically infers, that many decisions do originally begin alike; feelings of certainty or alleviation, an instantaneous positive or negative response. The speaker then decides to choose the road less taken, and continues along. He later realizes, “… both that morning equally lay, in leaves no step had trodden black.” This phrase refers to the word “trodden,” as completed or extinguished. “Black” is symbolizing purity or perfection and “leaves” symbolize encounters. The emphasis on “morning” symbolizes continuity and duration, and accentuates to which degree. Metaphorically, Frost implies that while a decision may be alike, the outcomes of its offspring are never exact.

Finally, Frost expresses discontent with the idea that every moment is liable for only a pair of situational options; with the imperious law of time ever preventing its replication. The speaker is discouraged with the impending system of choice and the constant inability to experience more than one option, “And sorry I could not travel both.” “Oh, I kept the first for another day!” The speaker begins to adopt a sense of aggravation and despair, longing for an opportunity to later travel along the other road. He states, “Yet knowing how way leads to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.” This statement acknowledges the inclusive, unrepeatable journey and the functioning of time; expressing the permanence of a decision.

In conclusion, “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost perfected the usage of symbolism; managing to deliver alternate perspectives within the individual work.

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