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Metaphors, Imagery, And Personification In The Road Not Taken

930 words - 4 pages

Have you ever encountered a difficult, life-changing decision? Have you ever made a choice, thinking you could go back to the other route, but had your decision lead to other decisions and so on, until you ultimately realize you’re too far to turn back? In “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost interprets these divergent paths, or irreversible decisions that must be made in our life, through the stylistic devices of metaphor, imagery, and personification, illustrating that there are challenging choices ahead which may initially seem equal, but that once those decisions are made, they can actually make “all the difference”(20).

This poem employs an extended metaphor, allowing the reader to imagine several comparisons. The poet states, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (1). On a literal level, it is clear that there are two roads branching off in different directions in a yellow wood, or during autumn. A closer reading reveals that the “roads” could represent the choices and paths people make in life. Moreover the poet specifically designates, “Two roads,” which implies a difficult decision to be made. One can choose to take the easier, or the harder of the two. The “yellow wood” could additionally express a world full of bright ideas and opportunities which may be difficult to choose from. It also establishes the poem’s autumnal setting. Frost emphasizes the season by describing the fallen leaves that are undisturbed. Since autumn is followed by winter, it is a season of urgency and decay rather than of life and growth. It symbolizes the middle of one’s life or the transition of human life that ends in death. The speaker would like to come back to this place, but he knows he will never be able to. He can only move forward until he reaches the end of his life. In line 3, the author points out, “And be one traveler, long I stood.” From this, readers can assume that he is merely a traveler deciding which trail he should take, but moreover the deeper meaning is that his choice is challenging. When the poet says, “long I stood,” it illustrates that he had to stop and ponder, because his decision between the two options was difficult. Readers can arrive at the conclusion that life is full of difficult decisions which we may inevitably need to make.

In the next few stanzas, Frost illustrates the decisions using imagery to better appeal to our senses. It reflects the uncertainty behind of the choice that the traveler faces. His reluctance is already demonstrated in line 3, “long I stood” as he ponders his options. Frost also states in line 5 that one path is “bent in the undergrowth,” suggesting a hint of darkness. On the other hand, the other road is “grassy and wanted...

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