The Very Ambiguous Road Not Taken
Donald J. Greiner states, "In the years since his death, biographical revelations and critical appraisals have torn off the mask to expose a Frost the public never knew: a flawed man with more than his share of personal tragedy, a major poet with more than his share of fear"(95). Many people consider Robert Frost to be a great poet with many accomplishments. His work is well known throughout Europe and the United States; however, most people do not know the kind of life Frost led. On the surface, Frost seems to be a skilled writer filled with ambition and determination, yet, on the inside, he is a man constantly tormented by a haunting past and many unknown tragedies. Frost often conveys his feelings in his poetry; thus, just as Frost's life has an underlying meaning, so do many of his poems. Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is a poem that is often studied on its obvious surface level; however, the poem is actually very ambiguous in its underlying meaning.
Because the speaker in Frost's work can only take one path, he will never know what the other path holds for him. In the beginning of the work, the speaker states, "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, /And sorry I could not travel both" (1-2). This statement supports the fact that the speaker realizes he can not take both paths; therefore, he can never know what each path has to offer him. The speaker often refers to the fact that he wishes to be able to explore both paths. When the traveler says he "kept the first for another day!" (13), he means that one day he intends to come back to the road he did not take and see what he missed. Supporting this fact, the speaker also declares that "knowing how way leads to way, /[he] doubted [he] should ever come back" (15). The word doubted is important to the actual meaning of the phrase because it does not mean that the speaker will never come back to visit these two paths. On the contrary, the word doubted gives the impression that the speaker might be back one day. However, after traveling down the second path, the speaker's outlook might change, and he may not see the first path, as he would have had he traveled it first. After a first impression, past influences and circumstances are often difficult to overlook.
In Frost's work, fate is conveyed as the controlling force over the speaker. The speaker's fate chooses him; he does not choose his fate. Supporting this thought is the fact that the speaker does not perform all of the action in the work. In the second stanza, the path, "having perhaps a better claim, /Because it was grassy and wanted wear"(6-8), seems to force the speaker to walk down it. Unexpectantly, the speaker says that the path "wanted wear" (8). Instead of the speaker wanting to travel down the path, the path wants the speaker to travel down it. In this sense, the path is the controlling force moving the speaker, therefore,...