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Fate, Destiny And Free Will In Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken

1229 words - 5 pages

The Road Not Taken:  The Paradox of Free Will

Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken", is a profound philosophical
approach illustrating the paradox of free will.  In the first line, Frost
uses the metaphor "Two roads diverged" (1), to establish not only the
dilemma of the traveler in the poem, but life itself.  The decisions we make
in life, like the traveler in "The Road Not Taken", are not to be taken
lightly.  There is a desire to be adventurous, yet we fear possible regret
for 'what might have been'.  Either way, we must live with the choices we
make.  "The Road Not Taken" is an ambiguous poem epitomizing the complex
nature of individuality.

The literal situation of "The Road Not Taken" concerns a traveler who is
faced with  a very simple decision.  The traveler comes to a crossroads in
"a yellow wood" (1). Two paths lay ahead of him, both "just as fair" (6). 
The traveler desires to take both roads, but knows that he "could not take
both" (2), and is disturbed by that realization.  He regrets being able
experience both paths.  The traveler takes his time contemplating over which
direction to pursue.  As he looks for sign to guide him, he notices an
undergrowth hiding a bend in one of the paths.  This distraction in his line
of vision was one of two differences in the roads that lied ahead.  The
second difference is that the other road "wanted wear" (8).  Although the
paths otherwise seem very similar, the adventurous traveler proceeds down
"the one less traveled" (19). The traveler makes his decision, but is
reluctant.  Instead of saying, 'it has the better claim', he says "having
perhaps the better claim" (7).  The indecisiveness of the traveler is seen
once again in lines 9-12.  Frost continues the contemplation of the traveler
from the second stanza into the next.  A structural link is created between
stanzas two, "worn them really about the same" (10),  and stanza three,
"both that morning equally lay" (11).  This indecision symbolizes the
central idea of the poems theme. central idea of the poems theme. For a
brief and exciting moment, the traveler believes he will save the road not
chosen "for another day!" (13). Frost uses an exclamation mark in line 13 to
illustrate the travelers attempt to justify a decision.  However, knowing
that "way leads to way" (14), the traveler doubts ever returning and
following another road.  Once the decision has been made for one crossroads,
the traveler knows that there will be many more crossroads ahead.  It is
this realization that conceives a completely different tone for the final
stanza.  The traveler envisions himself in the future, telling of his day in
a "yellow wood" (1) when "two roads diverged" (1), that he had to make a
choice.  A choice that will have "made all the difference" (20). The
traveler does not foresee regret for the decision, however believes that he
will be telling the story "with a...

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