“The Road Not Taken” is a poem by Robert Frost, published in 1916. The poem tells the story of a person’s decision to take the less traveled path in life. The poem has been interpreted in many ways, but one common theme is that of choices and consequences. The poem also speaks to the idea of regret, and how we often look back on our decisions with hindsight. The title of the poem suggests that sometimes, the road less traveled may be the better choice.
Every one of us makes choices throughout our day, some we may not be proud of later, but those experiences only serve to shape and grow us. In Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, he analyzes life’s choices. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both/And be one traveler, long I stood” (Clugston, 2010).
The speaker in The Road Not Taken is faced with a choice of which path to take in life. The roads represent the different choices we make in our lives. The speaker is torn between the two roads and must choose one. The road not taken “has grass that grows / Between the blades of grass” (Clugston, 2010). The other road is “just as fair” (Clugston, 2010), but it “bends in the undergrowth” (Clugston, 2010).
The speaker chooses the road less traveled because it is different from the other. It represents taking the path less traveled in life. The speaker knows that once he makes his choice, he can never go back and choose the other path. “I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence” (Clugston, 2010). The speaker is reflecting on his choice and is happy with the decision he made. The road less traveled represents taking risks in life and being different from the rest.
I have known this poem since I was very young. At the time, I wasn’t aware of what my great-grandmother was trying to tell me through it, but as I grew older, her message become more and more clear: she was teaching me about life and how to make good choices. The tone of the poem is one of uncertain decisions; meaning that the speaker (persona) is carefully thinking about which path to take and whether or not it is correct.
The persona is at a fork in the road, and both roads appear to be evenly covered with leaves. The persona states that he or she “took the one less traveled by”. The choice made by the persona is not an easy one because neither road is more appealing than the other; they are both equally as beautiful.
An excellent example of a modern poem that has multiple layers of meaning is ‘The Road not Taken’ by Robert Frost, which was written in the early 20th century. This poem is an excellent example of a deconstructive reading because it has so many different meanings and levels. All of the techniques have their own flaws, therefore deconstructive reading of Frost’s poem is inherently defective.
The aim of this paper is to remove some of the deficiencies by offering a feminist reading of “The Road Not Taken.” The deconstructionist approach often leads to the focus on the poem’s language at the expense of its content, which is why I would argue that a feminist reading provides a more comprehensive understanding of the poem.
In her book The Feminist Reader: Essays in Gender and the Politics of Literary Criticism, Catherine Belsey argues that “the task of feminism is not simply to add women to the history of literature or even to write a history of women’s writing; it is above all to change our sense of what literature is” (7). In other words, according to Belsey, feminism should not be limited to providing a female perspective on literature, but should also challenge the very definition of literature. The deconstructionist approach to literary criticism often does just that: it questions the traditional understanding of literature and challenges the idea of there being a single, correct interpretation of a text.
Frost’s poem is a perfect example of a text that can be interpreted in multiple ways. The title of the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” immediately suggests that there are two roads, two paths, two choices. The speaker in the poem is faced with a choice: which road should he take? The first stanza of the poem provides some background information: the speaker is out walking in the woods and comes to a fork in the road. The roads are “equally” worn and “the passing there / Had worn them really about the same” (Frost 3-4). The speaker doesn’t hesitate for long: he immediately makes a decision and takes the road “less traveled by” (5).
The choice of which road to take is, of course, a metaphor for life choices. The speaker in the poem is faced with a choice and makes a decision without knowing what lies ahead. The title of the poem suggests that the speaker made the wrong choice, but it’s not until the final stanza that we realize that the speaker does not regret his choice. In fact, he seems to be quite happy with the decision he made: “I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference” (9-10).
Overstating the differences between the two roads is precisely what deconstructive reading of Frost’s poem, written by D. M. Bowers suffers from; in fact, it exaggerates the distinctions between them to the point that they are regarded as absolute opposites.
The ideas of progress and stasis, development and arrest, growth and stagnation, which are contained in the opposition “the Road Not Taken/the other road,” become much clearer when we apply the deconstructive approach to them. The first thing that should be mentioned is that, according to this approach, both roads are equally important; there is no hierarchical opposition between them. The very title of the poem suggests that it will be about a choice, but deconstructionist reading reveals that there is no real choice here, because both roads are equal. The fact that one road is not taken does not make it any less significant than the other road.
The next point that should be made is that the roads are not really opposed to each other. The opposition between them is created by the reader, who superimposes his or her own values and ideas onto the text. The roads are only different in the sense that they have not been taken; they are equally untaken.
The fact that one road is more worn than the other is not significant, because it simply means that more people have chosen to take that particular road. The difference between the two roads is ultimately a difference between two possible futures, and both of these futures are equally open to possibilities.