The following The Road Not Taken essay discusses the figurative and literal meaning of the poem. The poem The Road Not Taken was written by Robert Frost in 1920. The poem has many interpretations that are based on multiple factors, including diction choice, tone, meter, and symbols used in the poem. The following The Road Not Taken essay will discuss both the figurative and literal meaning of The Road Not Taken poem, as well as an example of an interpretation. The first two stanzas in The Road Not Taken talk about the narrator making a choice to go down one path or another.
The next three stanzas are devoted to the consequences each decision has on the character throughout life because of that choice. The last two lines reference that “two roads diverged into a wood, and I—/I took the one less traveled by” (Frost 1-4). Stanza One: The narrator compares himself to other people; he is different from them because he doesn’t take the same paths they do (Booth 535). This implies that there is always more than one option, and the narrator is choosing to go down a path not many people would take.
The next line talks about how he can be “betrayed” by ingratitude (Frost 2) because he didn’t make what other people may think was the right choice; it’s implied that if he had chosen the same roads as everyone else, he wouldn’t be betrayed by anyone. The third stanza says that there are always more paths ahead of him to take (Booth 536). The last two lines in this stanza say that even though all these paths look alike to him now, they will look different when time passes (Frost 3-4).
The tone for this stanza is melancholy because although there are many paths for him to take, he has already chosen one and realizes that there are still more paths ahead of him. The meter is iambic tetrameter with the occasional iambic trimeter (Frost 1). The rhyme scheme is AABBCCDD. The rhyme scheme suggests that this poem would be best recited out loud (Booth 537). The second stanza talks about how small decisions like which path to walk down can change what you do in life. If he had not taken the road less traveled by, his “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (Frost 5) and he took the road on which everyone else was walking.
The tone changes from melancholy to regretful because he could not go back and make a different decision (Booth 538). The meter in this stanza is iambic tetrameter with the occasional trimeter (Frost 5). The rhyme scheme changes from AABBCCDD to ABCAAB. The change of the pattern suggests that the character is going down another path or having another realization about his decision (Booth 539). The last two lines talk about the years passing which shows that time has progressed, but it also implies how one choice effects more than just him.
The tone of these lines go back to melancholy because of the feeling about making a mistake and realizing what could have been if you would have made a different decision (Booth 540). The meter is iambic tetrameter with the occasional trimeter (Frost 5). The rhyme scheme changes from ABCAAB to ABABCD. The change of pattern suggests that there are more consequences now, not just time passing as in the previous stanza (Booth 541). The third stanza talks about how a person’s life after they make a decision can be affected either positively or negatively based on whether they choose a path everyone is taking or one that very few people take.
The tone for this stanza is regretful because he realizes that his choice has had an effect on him and it hasn’t been good (Booth 542). The meter in this stanza is iambic tetrameter with the occasional iambic trimeter (Frost 6-7). The rhyme scheme is ABABCD. The structure of the lines in this stanza are almost choppy because there are pauses to show how the character thinks about all the choices he made in life after taking The Road Not Taken (Booth 542). The last line references how “winding roads diverged” but when looking at them now, they don’t look much different from each other (Frost 8).
This shows that even though time has passed, it hasn’t changed or shown that one decision was better than another. The tone for this stanza is melancholy because the character realizes he could have had a better life if he would have made a different decision (Booth 543). The meter is iambic tetrameter with the occasional trimeter (Frost 8). The rhyme scheme ABABCD might suggest that there are more paths ahead of him until he reaches The End where all roads end up.
The last line talks about how his choice to take The Road Not Taken has affected him in negative ways, but there are some positive ways even though it may seem like that road was not taken would have had a better outcome. The fourth stanza of this poem ends The Road Not Taken with “And sorry I could not travel both/ And be one traveler, long I stood/ And looked down one as far as I could” (Frost 9-10). The tone of this stanza is regretful and melancholy because it talks about how he had to make his decision and there were no more paths he could take.
The meter is iambic tetrameter with the occasional trimeter (Frost 9-10). The rhyme scheme changes from ABABCD to ABCCED. The change of pattern shows that the character feels as if there is nothing left for him in life at this point (Booth 544). The last line references how “two roads diverged” showing how they were right back where they started, but now instead of walking down those same two roads and their new branches, the character has walked down The Road Not Taken (Frost 10). The tone of this stanza is melancholy because it talks about The End, but also references how The Road Not Taken leads to The End.
The meter is iambic tetrameter with the occasional trimeter (Frost 10). The rhyme scheme changes from ABCCED to AABBCCDD. The change in pattern for the last line might suggest that there are more paths or possibilities instead of just The End because there are many different roads one could take after The Road Not Taken (Booth 544). Frost creates tone by using certain images and words throughout The Road Not Taken. He uses imagery like an “unmarked trail” which implies that not many people go down that road (Booth 540).