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Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"


The Road Not Taken | Complete Works | Biography | Frost Links | Criticisms | Explication | Frost's Thoughts

10 Step Poetry Explication Process

Dirt Road

1. Title: Sounds as if the speaker is describing a road that is not often traveled.
2. Dramatic Situation:
Speaker- a young or middle aged man
Addressee- any listener or person who finds themself in a similar situation
Occasion- a moment of decision
3. Subject: The speaker is at a fork in the roa where he must decide which path to take. He decides to take the road less traveled since he is unable to decipher where either road leads, and says that one day he will reflect on his decision and see that it has made all the difference.
4. Images, Figures of Speech, Literary Devices:
Line 1: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood"- very photographic, anyone can create this image in their head
Line 8: "grassy and wanted wear"- picturesquely describes that the road is not often used
Line 14: "way leads on to way"- repetition, creates a flowing, unstoppable movement to mirror the pace of life
Line 18-19: "I--I"- repetition, the I's creat a sense of pride or emphasis, as if the speaker must pause to contentedly reflect or because he wishes to accentuate his life altering decision
Line 1-20: The comparison between the fork in the road and the decisions one must make in life is an extended metaphor.
The roads represent different paths in life.
The undergrowth reprsents the uncertainty present choices will have on the future.
The less traveled road is grassy and wanted wear because people do not often take it because it is the path not accepted by society.
He admits he will not be able to take the other another day because one can not relive choices once a decision is made.
5. Tone: It is contemplative when deciding between the merits of each road, regretful because he realizes that he will never have the chance to know where the other road would have taken him, and ultimately optimistic when acknowledging that taking the road less traveled will make all the difference.
6. Structure: Four stanzas of five lines each.
The first presents the decision.
The second shows the choice made.
The third shows the regret that the other will never be taken.
The fourth highlights the theme of the poem and presents the speaker's happiness in taking the less used road.
7. Rhyme Scheme: ABAAB CDCCD...
8. Title: It celebrates the wisdom of choosing the road not often taken.
9. Theme: One must choose thir own path in life to be truly happy, not the one which society has deemed acceptable or that which most people choose.
10. Diction: Simple, concrete, picturesque, natural and easily understood. "Yellow wood," "undergrowth," "grassy" and "black" create a picture for the reader. The universal images allow the reader to attain a better grasp of the universal theme being put across. The "sigh" of the poem sounds in the ears of the reader so that they may better connect with the speaker through human experience and understand his happiness in his decision.
Note: Though Frost's diction is characteristically simple, he hopes that the reader is able to read into his words and see their deeper meaning. His poetry deals with subjects of great import, such as life and death, and his basic wording does not reflect the depth of the subject matter of his work, rather it brings it to life in an understandable and relatable manner.