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Imagery and tone in the road not taken

In this line Frost introduces the elements of his primary metaphor, the diverging roads. Lines 2-3 Here the speaker expresses his regret at his human limitations, that he must make a choice. A 1958 interview with Robert Frost is available from Zenger Video.

Lines 4-5 He examines the path as best he can, but his vision is limited because the path bends and is covered over. These lines indicate that although the speaker would like to acquire more information, he is prevented from doing so because of the nature of his environment.

Lines 6-8 In these lines, the speaker seems to indicate that the second path is a more attractive choice because no one has taken it lately. Lines 9-12 Although the poet breaks the stanza after line 10, the central idea continues into the third stanza, creating a structural link between these parts of the poem. Lines 13-15 The speaker makes his decision, trying to persuade himself that he will eventually satisfy his desire to travel both paths, but simultaneously admitting that such a hope is unrealistic.

Notice the exclamation mark after line 13; such a punctuation mark conveys excitement, but that excitement is quickly undercut by his imagery and tone in the road not taken in the following lines.

Lines 16-20 In this stanza, the tone clearly shifts. This is the only stanza which also begins with a new sentence, indicating a stronger break from the previous ideas. The speaker imagines himself in the future, discussing his life. What he suggests, here, though, appears to contradict what he has said earlier. At the end of the poem, in the future, he will claim that the paths were different from each imagery and tone in the road not taken and that he courageously did not choose the conventional route.

There is some evidence that makes this interpretation reasonable. The central situation is that one has to choose one road or the other without compromise—an absolutist situation that resembles the way that moral dilemmas are often phrased.

Since there is really no distinction made between the roads except that one has been travelled on more than the other, that would be the only basis on which to make a choice. The tone of this poem is another indicator that an important decision is being made, with careful, deliberate concentration. Since so much is being put into the choice and the less travelled road is the one chosen, it is reasonable for the reader to assume that this is what the message is supposed to be.

Much is made about how slight the differences between the paths are particularly in lines 9-19and the speaker expects that when he looks back on this choice with the benefit of increased knowledge, he will sigh.

  • In the prescribed poem, he ruminates over which vocation to pursue, that of a poet or a teacher;
  • Because he's standing, we know that he's on foot, and not in a carriage or a car;
  • Furthermore, we know that he is going to tell a lie;
  • The process of selection implies an unretracing process of change through which individual kinds are permanently altered by experience;
  • The imagery of the poem makes it understandable that the choice the narrator made is to be happy.

If this is a testament to individuality, it is a pretty flimsy one. This imagery and tone in the road not taken does not celebrate individualism, but accepts it. Choices and Consequences The road that forks into two different directions always presents a choice to be made, in life as well as in poetry. The speaker of this poem is not pleased about having to make this choice and says that he would like to travel both roads. What the poem implies, but does not state directly, is that the most important factor to consider when making a choice is that the course of action chosen should fit in with the decisions that one has made in the past.

This speaker is distressed about being faced with two paths that lead in different directions because the wrong choice will lead to a lack of integrity. If there were no such thing as free willthe problem would not be about which choice to make: In the vision of another writer, this is exactly what would happen.

Another writer, faced with the same two roads, would know without a second thought which one to follow. But it is the nature of life that choosing cannot be avoided. The only way to approach such a dilemma, the poem implies, is to study all of the details until something makes one direction more important than the other.

The difference may be small, nearly unnoticeable, but it will be there. In this case, the speaker of the poem considers both sides carefully and is open to anything that can make a difference. From the middle of the first stanza to the end of the third, physical characteristics are examined. For the most part, the roads are found to be the same: The one difference is that one has been overgrown with grass from imagery and tone in the road not taken being used, and, on that basis, the narrator follows it.

There is no indication that this slight distinction is the sign that the speaker was looking for or that he feels that the right choice has been made.

Many readers never realize that Frost wrote this poem as a parody of an indecisive friend. Choose one character trait of one of your friends and write a poem about it. Do not mention the character trait directly in your poem, but show someone acting it out. Is this a sigh of relief? Its rhyme scheme is abaab, which means that the first line in each stanza rhymes with the third and fourth lines, while the second line rhymes with the fifth line. Most of the lines are written in a loose or interrupted iambic meter.

An iambic foot contains two syllables, an unstressed one followed by a stressed one. Because most of the lines contain nine syllables, however, the poem cannot be strictly iambic. Often, the extra syllable will be unstressed and will occur near the caesura, or pause, within the line.

The symbolism of the two roads in this poem can be applied to any number of circumstances in life, and therefore we cannot identify any one particular meaning as the one that Frost had in mind. An act of Congress created the National Parks Service to preserve millions of acres of forest land for the enjoyment of future generations. Many older United States cities are losing residents as corporations and their employees move to outlying areas.

  1. Although it is not social in content, this poem raises questions about independence and individuality. The tone in the poem begins with thinking puzzlement tone and ends with a happy relaxed tone.
  2. This speaker is distressed about being faced with two paths that lead in different directions because the wrong choice will lead to a lack of integrity. The poet may be trying to determine what his instinct is telling him in order to arrive at a final decision.
  3. On the other hand, this kind of equality discouraged individual personal achievement. When we look at the words, we should note that the poem contradicts itself in a curious and significant way a profitable class discussion might begin by asking students to explain this contradiction.
  4. And then it becomes clear the neither road has been travelled much at all. So it can be assumed that the narrator fully evaluated his choices and saw what would make him most happy.
  5. By evaluating both roads, he came to a decision and was happy with it because he made a choice. But where he succeeded was in being a truly great poet who also had widely popular appeal.

Albert Einstein published his general theory of relativity. Well aware of the consequences that imagery and tone in the road not taken choice, no country has yet used nuclear force in a war since the year the atomic bomb was first invented.

Various regional conflicts around the world are bring multinational peacekeeping forces together to help stabilize the situations. The first radio news broadcast was made. Radio, television, and the internet have channels devoted to narrow subjects of interest. The first supermarket chain, Piggly Wiggly, was begun in Memphis, Tennessee. Franchising has made identical versions of chain stores and restaurants familiar in every small town across the country and in most countries.

There are many ways in which the sort of choice presented in this poem would have had meaning for Frost and also for his audience. The Industrial Revolution in the late 1800s brought about advances in travel and communications that led to advances in international commerce.

It became difficult for any country, especially growing economic powers like the United States and Japan, to stay uninvolved. The American public wanted to stay out of the conflict we have come to call World War I: Early in his career as a poet, from 1912 to 1915, Frost and his family lived in England. When they moved back home, England was already involved in the war.

Britain joined other countries in the fight, while America struggled to remain isolated. Each side had a good case to make for its own position. Britain, as part of Europe, had been involved in various wars on the continent for centuries, as well as wars in Africa, India, Australia and North Americain defense of British colonies. Through the years, various treaties and alliances helped to end old wars, but as a result of them, Britain had to participate in new wars, even ones that did not directly threaten English land.

On the European continent, with so many small countries squeezed in closely together, this sort of cooperation was taken for granted. In the early part of this century, Britain was allied with the Triple Entente, a cooperative defense agreement with France and Russia.

When war broke out in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, one country after another joined the fighting. Britain held out just a few months after the assassination, but eventually joined too.

The Road Not Taken

In 1916 this question was particularly open to debate, due to the growing impersonal control of industrialization. Industrialization was the dominant social force in the last half of the nineteenth century. The South, the Confederacy, was basically agricultural, with huge plantations that were tended by slave labor, while the Union had manufacturing and some small farms that could be tended by hired hands.

As factories went up, families came to cities to obtain jobs in them, and immigrants came from other countries for the same reason. The new city dwellers were not self-reliant, as they had been in the country, but were now cogs in the wheels of a vast machine.

The living quarters that cities constructed to house these new workers were cramped together on top of one another—an especially frustrating situation for people who had come from open land. By 1916, artists and philosophers were questioning the depersonalizing effects of urban life and were worried that it had changed the nature of human thought.

Frost lived most of his life on farms and in small towns and avoided city life. Although it is not social in content, this poem raises questions about independence and individuality. In 1916 the growth of Communism in Russia produced a rising feeling of hope that the laborer could win back control of his own live. The stated goal of Communism was to let all workers benefit equally from production by having the government collect profits and redistribute them.

The year 1917 marked a high point for those who believed in Communism: All over the world, the intellectuals who were familiar with the economic principles of Karl Marxthe economist who provided the basis for Communism, believed that a better way of live would finally prevail. Those concerned about how the spread of Communism would affect individuals predicted two very different results.

On the one hand, equal distribution imagery and tone in the road not taken wealth could mean that no one person would be mistreated while someone with more money was treated well.

On the other hand, this kind of equality discouraged individual personal achievement. Personal achievement and self-reliance are considered Yankee character traits: Yankees are the people of the New England area of the country, where Frost lived since he was ten years old.

Isadore Traschen, however, in an article in The Yale Review, critiques the poem and its admirers quite harshly, accusing Frost of unrestrained sentimentality. Yvor Winters, writing in The Function of Criticism: Had he done this, he might have written a greater poem. But his poem is good as far as it goes; the trouble is that it does not go far enough, it is incomplete, and it puts on the reader a burden of critical intelligence which ought to be borne by the poet. He is currently writing a novel.

Writers find this method most productive in provoking a reader to think. This distinction between the actual situation and the way it is presented in words reveals more truths than a simple, direct account: Biographical accounts make it clear that Frost did not intend the message of this poem to be taken at face value. His biographer, Laurence Thompson, explained in Robert Frost: The satire was not so clear when he sent a copy of the poem to Thomas, though. In the end, Frost had to explain to his friend that he was the subject of the poem.