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Analysis of 'The Road not Taken' and 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'

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Words: 1248 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Words: 1248|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Feb 8, 2022

Robert Frost is admired not only for his world-renowned poem, “Road Not Taken,” but also for his incredible symbolism and deep interpretation of life through nature. Written in the 1920s, “Road Not Taken” and “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” focus on the images of our natural environment. In addition, they capture the reader’s attention by centering around a deeper and more powerful message: life choices. Frost’s work is exceptionally vivid and emotional. He specifically manifests this through his connotative language and detailed descriptions of nature. “Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” convey a universal theme of making a significant decision in life and moving forward.

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In “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Frost uses a very common, yet powerful rhyme scheme. The first, second, and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme, leaving the third line as an outsider. The outsider is then carried into the next stanza, adding more uniformity to the poem’s structure. This pattern is repeated for the next three stanzas and then shifts to a rhyme scheme of “DDDD” in the fourth stanza. Frost uses this rhyme scheme to accentuate the main theme of human life and decision making. The uneven rhyme scheme of the first three stanzas embodies the speaker’s scattered thoughts. This is seen in lines five through eight: “My little horse must think it queer/ to stop without a farmhouse near/ between the woods and frozen lake/ the darkest evening of the year/.” The speaker continues to question if he/she should stay and admire the beautiful scenery, or continue on his long journey back to his obligations. Additionally, the fourth stanza’s “DDDD” rhyme scheme implies the speaker's transition to more focused thoughts when he decides to continue his journey. Specifically, lines 13-15: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep/ but I have promises to keep/ and miles to go before I sleep/.” The phrase “I have promises to keep,” emphasizes his commitment to his work at home pulling him from the peaceful beauty of the snowy woods.

Equally important, In “Stopping by Woods,” Frost’s use of expressive imagery and personification bring an enchanting feeling to the reader. Frost not only uses visual imagery but auditory imagery as well. Visual imagery is shown when the speaker describes his surroundings in the snowy woods. This is specifically shown in line 13: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,/” which conveys the dark, yet calm demeanor of the woods. Correspondingly, the auditory imagery allows the reader to have a better sense of how quiet the woods are, with the only sound being the snowflakes falling in the wind. Lines 11-12, “The only other sound’s the sweep/ Of easy wind and downy flake/,” illustrates this. Frost uses these two approaches allow Frost to accentuate the stillness and attraction the speaker feels to the snowy woods.

All things considered, Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” appears to be a very simple poem but has powerful symbolism embedded. Through the first stanza, the rider stumbles upon the beautiful scenery of the woods while on his journey. The rider is entranced by the sight of the snow and can't help but stop and take it in. A theme of isolation emerges, as the rider feels joy in his solitude in the woods. In the second stanza, the rider’s horse is perplexed by the sudden halt in their journey. This is then carried into the third stanza when the horse shakes his bells, almost asking the rider, “what are we doing here?” The horse symbolizes common sense, keeping the rider focused on real life. In the final stanza of the poem, the rider acknowledges the beauty of the woods, yet resumes on his journey back to reality. This shows a common theme of being distracted from everyday life. The peace of the woods seems like a “dream” where all the stress and obligations of daily life disappear. Although the speaker could have stayed there, his/her commitment “dragged” them away.

Frost’s poem entitled “The Road Not Taken” is arguably one of the most celebrated poems in American history. This famous poem, however, has a rather unusual structure. It is written in iambic tetrameter, rather than the most common meter: iambic pentameter. This specific deviation from iambic pentameter could be used to represent the speaker being “out of the norm.” Furthermore, this lyric poem consists of four quintains with an “ABAAB” rhyme scheme. In a similar fashion, this rhyme scheme slightly deviates from common measure, which consists of the typical “ABAB” rhyme scheme. Although this slight difference in form is not very drastic but helps support Frost’s theme of life choices.

In the bigger picture, “The Road Not Taken,” portrays the speaker walking along a path in the woods and stumbling upon a fork in the yellow wood. This unplanned quandary causes the speaker to stop his journey, and contemplate which path to take. At first glance, the paths seem identical, but the speaker chooses to stop and contemplate his decision before moving forward. In fact, he tried to glance down the first path to see where it leads, but both bent underground out of sight. After briefly glancing down the second path that was “just as fair”, the speaker chooses the path that “was grassy and wanted wear”. The speaker, being out of the ordinary, makes his decision to continues his journey down this path. This goes to show how although this path seemed less traveled by, he did not desire to take the path that was more traveled by and abide by societal “norms.”

By the same token, Frost uses vivid imagery and extended metaphors to compare a simple scene in nature to a more intricate theme of life choices. “The Road Not Taken” metaphorically represents the twists and turns of life. The fork in the road is a metaphor for the decisions we must make going along our journey of life. Along with this extended metaphor, smaller metaphors lie within the poem as well. For instance, lines four through five say “And looked down as far as I could/ To where it bent in the undergrowth;/” In this instance, the reader is looking down the path, trying to see where it may lead. This metaphorically represents how in life, you are not able to see how your decisions will impact your future. Moreover, Frost uses detailed imagery to paint a detailed picture of the speaker's surroundings. This is seen in lines one through two, “Two roads diverged in yellow wood,/ And sorry I could not travel both/,” and in lines six through eight, “Then took the other, just as fair,/ And having perhaps a better claim,/ Because it was grassy and wanted wear;/.” From this, the reader can conceptualize the Autumn atmosphere (such as the yellow wood), and the untarnished grass down the untraveled path.

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In the final analysis, Frost’s poems “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “The Road Not Taken” are undeniably powerful and emotional. They each have their own unique interpretations of the journey of life and making significant life choices. These poems center around the grim reality of life, yet do so in a sophisticated manner through the images of our natural world. Both possess deep symbolism and captivating imagery which captures the reader's attention and get Frost’s message across.

Works Cited

  1. Frost, Robert. “Road Not Taken.” Poets.org, Academy of American Poets, 13 Sept. 2018, www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/road-not-taken.
  2. Frost, Robert. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, 1951, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Analysis Of ‘The Road Not Taken’ And ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’. (2022, February 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-road-not-taken-and-stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening/
“Analysis Of ‘The Road Not Taken’ And ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’.” GradesFixer, 10 Feb. 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-road-not-taken-and-stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening/
Analysis Of ‘The Road Not Taken’ And ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-road-not-taken-and-stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening/> [Accessed 26 May 2024].
Analysis Of ‘The Road Not Taken’ And ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Feb 10 [cited 2024 May 26]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/analysis-of-the-road-not-taken-and-stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening/
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