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Sample Essay on the Road not Taken

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Sample Essay on the Road not Taken

Summary of the Poem

The road not taken is one of the famous poems that have been written by Robert Frost.  The narrator in the poem comes upon a fork while walking in a road through yellow wood.  The yellow wood is composed of two roads that look the same. The narrator chooses one path and later on concludes that both roads are equally appealing and well travelled. The narrator argues that it will be quite difficult to find out all issues affecting the different road since there will be more forks on the road they had chosen to travel. Forks in this case may mean decisions that would see the narrator not going anywhere towards the other road. The narrator ends the poem in a nostalgic note wondering if things would have been different if they had chosen to pick a different road over the other. It is important to note that the narrator takes this journey after the death of the father.  As stated earlier, the two roads may imply the decisions made and how they would have been different if the narrator had chosen a different path altogether. However, since one decision normally leads to another, the writer may not be able to enjoy the different decisions on the other road since they had no opportunity to travel on the other road.


Most scholars have argued that the proem mainly talks of making the right decisions or choices in life. It seems as if the speaker or narrator has to make a decision on the path they would follow in their life after coming to a fork or a crossroad. They have to make a decision on the path that they are going to take in their life. The narrator seems to travel on one road for long periods in their life. This road seems to have been much safer compared to the other roads.  However, the other road that is not taken seems to be one of the roads which results to more problems to the narrator. This is why at the end the narrator states that selecting the current path made the whole difference in their life. The theme does not only revolve around making choices but also praising the choice of the various non conformists. This refers to people who think out of the box before making decisions. This is affirmed when the narrator uses the statement” what does not kill you, makes you stronger” if the narrator had chosen the easier path they would have never in their life experienced any discomfort and challenges. However when they choose to take the current path, they expose themselves to various unforeseen challenges and obstacles. It is this obstacles and challenges that make the narrator character stronger than before. Therefore the road not travelled provides two different situations. One decision shows tragedy and problems in life while the other road is more about the non conformity of an individual in the society.  The road not taken can also be used in a satirical way to explain the different decisions made by different people. It can actually be used to ridicule most of decisions that are made by individuals in the society. Many other subthemes are brought out by the poem. They include themes related to decision/ indecision, individualism, caution, dreams, commitment, accepting challenges, ambiguity, exploration, and man and natural world.

Style and Form of the Poem

The diction or choice of words that have been used is quite different from the normal language. Most of the words are correct but have been arranged differently. Diction is normally used to refer to choice of words that express phrases and words that express particular feelings in a poem. The diction of the poem is expressive bringing out the thoughts of the poet in a much better way. The poem is also symbolic and uses very short lines to express feelings of the writer. The poet also manages to develop many ideas of indecision through the use of colloquial words. For example in the third stanza Frost writes “long I stood”. By doing this, the writer is put in chaos before making a definitive choice.  Additionally the writer has utilized many instances of repetition to try and bring out their side of the story. One common frame that has been largely used is “two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one less traveled by”. Repetition serves to emphasize various points in the poem.

            The poet uses numerous syntax or grammatical structures to bring out the desires effect in their poems. The use of the word ‘and’ can be noted in the first stanza. It has been used for a total of three times. This suggests that mind of the writer is pre-occupied by numerous activities especially the selection of the road. The poem is also a mixture of numerous past and present tenses moving back and forward. Most of the verbs that have been used are in their finite form. Use of finite form is used to explain the writers self reflection about certain issues. It also helps establish the past mistakes that have been made by the writer. Commas have also been numerously used to emphasize the reflection and pauses of thought experienced by the writer.  The last line in the poem has been written in the future tense. It may be used to suggest the pain or sadness that is felt by the poet. This line also comes with a hyphen that is used to show pause all thoughts on the poem.

Paradox has been used in the poem. The poet has to select between two roads that seemingly look fair on both ends. The poet cannot be able to travel on the different road at the same time and therefore the poet makes the paradoxical situation of taking one of the roads that were less travelled.

Irony has also been used in the poem. The poet decides to choose the road that is less travelled. The poet goes further to claim at the end that I made all the difference. It should be noted that in  the initial periods, the poet had described both roads as being fair and equal and therefore the final conclusions seems to be ironical to the earlier decision that had been taken.

Ambiguity has also been utilized severally by the poet. When the poet uses the title ‘the Road Not Taken’ two scenarios are created. The first being the road that has been taken and the other referring to a road that has been taken. A decision cannot be taken on the road that has been taken unless one reads and comprehends the whole poem.

The poem is composed of four stanzas.  All of the stanzas in the poem have a total of five lines. Each of the line utilized in the poem is composed of an iambic tetrameter. This means that in all instances an unstressable syllable is followed by stressable syllables. A perfect rhyme scheme is also established in the poem.  The rhyme scheme can be described to in the form of ABAAB, CDCCD, EFEEF, and GHGGH.

The rhyme scheme ABAAB, CDCCD, EFEEF, and GHGGH can be described as iambic. This means that an unstressed beat if normally followed by a stressed beat. Each line is composed of eight letters that are found in their stressable forms. Four of them are stressed while the remaining four are unstressable. Thus, the poem can be said to be a tetramer. Moreover different tones and flow have been utilized to create a dramatic effect.

Stylistic Devices

Various stylistics devices have been utilized in the above poem. Assonance which refers to the repetition of vowels sounds in poet lines. For example the letter ‘O’ has been utilized in the word road and yellow. In the first line the letter ‘A’ has been used in various instances to show the effects of assonance

Cacophony has also been utilized in the poem to bring out certain effects. Cacophony refers to the use of word such as ‘Ks’ and ‘Ts’. It is normally used in most poems to bring out the unpleasant events in the poem. The cacophonies that have been used in the poem include ‘tt’ and‘t’. Consonance has also been utilized in the poem. Majorly the forms that have been utilized include the use of‘ll’ and ‘g’ in the words shall, telling and all while the latter has been used in the word ages and diverged. These forms are found in stanza four.

Alliteration has been utilized to bring out a beautiful effect on the words.  For example in stanza 3 line 3, the words that have been used to bring such an effect are ‘first for’. The f alliteration has been used in the above case. Onomatopoeia has also been utilized in stanza four by the poet. It brings out all the negative or happy feelings of the writer basing on the decision that they have made.

Imagery has been used to describe the surrounding atmosphere of the poem. It has been used to aid the learner understand the different scenarios in the poem.  Stanza one is a perfect example of imagery. The three liens attempt to paint an image in the head all readers of the poem. It depicts an image of how the roads looked like. Other important stylistic devices that have been utilized include personification, use of metaphors, antithesis, and symbolism


The poem the road not taken by Robert frost is the perfect example of how people are defined by the decisions that they make in their life. The poem stands out as one that has utilized many different forms of stylistic devices and forms providing the perfect learning ground for most learners. The road not taken can be used to assess the abilities of different learner in understanding poetic concepts

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