AP Prompt: Allegory and symbolism are often used to convey implicit meaning in a work of literature. In a well-organized essay discuss how Robert Frost uses the aforementioned devices to convey his intent or implicit meaning. Robert Frost’s iconic poem The Road Not Taken is a work heavily reliant on the use of symbolism and allegory to convey the implicit meaning. The poem is a narrative of a moment in a man’s life where he must make a choice, standing at a separation of paths in a yellow wood.
The Road Not Taken is a poem with a universal message that is relevant to all about a difficult choice people will unavoidable have to make at some point in their lives. By examining this often misunderstood work of poetry and analyzing the use of symbolism and allegory it will become clear that these two devices are vital to the effectiveness of conveying the implicit meaning of the poem. In many poems symbolism is used as a primary device in conveying meaning or revealing certain underlying messages in a work.
Frost first introduces the primary symbol of the poem in the first line; “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both. ” If interpreted literally the poem is that of a man at a separation of paths in a yellow wood. The symbolism in the poem, however, involves the use of both roads as symbols of the choices made in the speaker’s life and the consequences of making those choices. In addition to the two roads symbolizing a crossing in the speaker’s life, there is a sense of regret in the speaker’s words. And sorry I could not travel both. ” Even though the speaker after much examination of both paths eventually makes a decision about which path he will choose to take, he also establishes that the decision, whether made irrationally or thought long and hard about, will change the speaker’s life in unpredictable ways. Without this symbolism represented by the fork in the road, this poem would have no choice but to be taken literally and would lose the recondite meaning behind the two paths diverged in a yellow wood.
The meaning of the poem is often misunderstood because of a simple misinterpretation of the actual text. Although the speaker states at one point in the poem, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I- I took the one less traveled by” (Line 18-19) neither of the roads in fact are less travelled by which changes the common idea of the meaning of the poem. If one of the roads had been less travelled by, the speaker may be trying to convey the idea that you must take your own path and make your own decisions regardless of what the popular choice is.
Since neither road is less travelled by it seems the true intent of the poem is dealing with the consequences of “the road not taken. ” The identical forks in the road symbolize the link between free will and fate. We are free to choose which road to take yet because the paths are equal we do not know exactly what we are choosing between. Ultimately the decision is a mix of both choice and chance and the separation of the two is impossible.