Robert Frost Analysis

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The interpretation and meaning of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” can be better understood by analyzing his specific word choice and sentences. Despite critics believing that studying Frost’s life provides deeper insight into the poem’s theme, their overanalyzed ideas fall short. The key to understanding Frost’s message is the content and diction of the poem, rather than his context. “The Road Not Taken” is a closed-form poem with an ABAAB rhyme scheme in the first paragraph, while the rest of the three stanzas lack interlocking rhyme. Published in 1915, this poem highlights the impactful choices in both literal and figurative terms, creating a strong tension between stating and suggesting. In first-person narrative, Frost explores the dilemma of choosing between two diverging roads.

In this poem, Frost discusses the different roads the traveler encounters and explores his internal struggle with making a decision. Ultimately, the traveler makes his choice and concludes the poem with reflection on his decision. In the first stanza, Frost portrays the traveler in an autumnal setting, facing a fork in the path and unsure of which road to take. In the second stanza, Frost reveals that the traveler has chosen one road, believing it may have a stronger claim. The poet also notes that both roads appear equally well-traveled.

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The third stanza sees the traveler contemplating keeping the first road for another day, but the narrator expresses doubt about this possibility in the following line. In the last stanza, the traveler explains with a sigh that he chose the road less traveled, which has had a significant impact on his journey. The opening line of the last stanza, “I shall be telling this [story] with a sigh,” has generated conflicting interpretations among critics based on context and content.

When analyzing the poem’s context in relation to Frost’s life, both Fleissner and Katherine Kearns see it as evidence supporting the idea that Frost shifted his focus from Thomas to himself (Fleissner). However, a close examination of the content reveals that the word “sigh” can have both positive and negative connotations. Robert Faggen views this sigh as a regret for a missed opportunity or a path not taken, which has closed off other potential outcomes for the traveler (Faggen). On the other hand, a positive interpretation could be that the sigh represents relief from choosing the right “claim” (7).

The comparison of context and content interpretations demonstrates that the content reveals a broader, relatable significance of life choices and decisions. In contrast, Fleissner and Kearns argue that there is no meaning at all and simply assert that this poem represents Frost’s friend Thomas. Robert Frost expresses his admiration for the natural beauty of New England in his poetry, particularly in the poem “The Road Not Taken.” Born on March 26, 1874, Frost is a renowned poet known for his skillful employment of rhyme, diction, and symbols that reflect the simplicity of New England.

Frost attended Dartmouth and Harvard University for his education. He resided with his family on a farm in Derry, N. H. After a period in England, Frost returned to the United States following World War I and settled back on a farm in Franconia, N. H (Merriam Page 1). “The Road Not Taken” exemplifies Frost’s fondness for New England as it portrays the autumnal woods for which the region is renowned. Critics perceive Frost as an individualist due to his previous life on farms.

Critics argue that Frost’s personality and career choice are reflected in this poem, “The Road Not Taken,” showcasing his individualism. In the dictionary, individualism is defined as the principle or belief in independent thought or action. Frost demonstrates independent thought by opting to pursue a career as a poet, which was considered unconventional during his time. He did not settle for more comfortable and ordinary jobs like banking or being a postman. This decision speaks to his unique personality and refusal to conform.

Despite not taking into account Frost’s personal history, there is textual proof that showcases an independent character. The narrator remains unnamed, allowing readers to infer that this is a universal statement about individualism rather than a reflection of Frost’s or perhaps Thomas’s own lives. Frost states that the traveler selects the path that is “less traveled by,” which is said to have “made all the difference.” This signifies the traveler’s decision to opt for the less popular route, demonstrating a refusal to conform and a clear display of individualism. The conclusion of “The Road”

“Not Taken” explores Frost’s motivation for writing this poem. He chooses to depict a decision and purposely leaves the interpretation of the decision to his readers. This mirrors the central theme of the poem, highlighting that individuals weigh options and make decisions in their own unique ways, making it impossible to determine a universally correct or incorrect choice. Through his effective choice of words, Frost emphasizes that it is not the decision itself that holds significance, but rather the act of making a decision. This is why he intentionally allows for interpretation at the end of the poem, as these evaluations hold no true importance.

Multiple critics have mentioned that Frost’s poem reflects the life of his friend Edward Thomas, rather than his own. Frost frequently visited Edward Thomas, and they would often take walks through the woods. The poem “The Road Not Taken” is said to be more about Thomas’s secluded and lonely life (Finger Page 1). According to several essays written by critics, Frost and Thomas would come across forks in the woods during their walks and had to choose a path. It is mentioned that Thomas would complain about not being able to choose both paths. Frost himself claims that the poem is about Edward Thomas (Fleissner). Fleissner suggests that the poem initially focuses on Thomas but eventually turns into being about Frost. He supports this by pointing out that Frost’s thoughts change between writing the poem and deciding to publish it, which is reflected in the word “sigh” in the last stanza of the poem. Another reason critics believe Frost wrote “The Road Not Taken” is that Frost was in England when he wrote it (source).

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