Abstract?Robert style. Therefore, this term paperis also

Abstract?Robert Frost is one of the prominent American poets of the twentieth century. With his talent, he left a profound influence on twentieth-centurypoetry. In other words, despite the fact he is American, he gained popularity in England and also in whole Europe. This term paper aims to analyse his famous poem “The Road Not Taken”. In its very beginning, this paper sheds light on a general background in which the poem was written. It attempts to briefly discuss the harsh realities brought about by World War I, such as alienation, spiritual loneliness, disillusionment, and fragmentation of social bonds. This paper also tries to present some factors that are crucial in providing a better understanding of the poem and reveal the hidden meaning or interpretation behind the simple presentation of words; such key factors are symbolism and individualism contained in the poem. Additionally, the focus is also on the distinguishing characteristics of Frost’s poetry as well as his poetic style. Therefore, this term paperis also significant and helpful in noticing the confusion the poet attempts to present in having the difficulty of deciding between right and wrong choices of life. In fact, much of Frost’s poetry deals with natural elements, personal and general aspects of human beings. Consequently, most of his themes are common and universal; everyone almost feels them. As a final point, the conclusion of the paper sums up the achievements of the previous topics.       1. Introduction?Interpreting any literary work is considered a crucial task as it requires a critical analysis of all the trends contributed to the development of the work. Therefore, it is essential to have a general explanation about modernism because Robert Frost is one of the prominent poets of the twentieth century. To put it more simply, modernism as a literary movement has been characterised by a fundamental shift away from tradition. The most distinctive feature of modernism is the rejection of tradition as well as the rejection of the certainty of Enlightenment thinking (Day, 2010).Modern poetry has been characterized by a feeling of anxiety about life and the world in general. The rapid growth of industrialisation, technological advance, new perceptions about the world, and the overall disillusionment produced by the First World War along with other harsh realitieshave contributed to the appearance of significantchanges in the habitual way of living. Many modern poets have responded to these changes in various ways, for instance, Sylvia Plath has written poems of protest, and T.S. Eliot and E. E. Cummings have expressed the desire to escape from the world. The theme of indecision is noticeable in modern poetry as it is observable in Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”. Characters or speakers usually feel separated from people as well as from the rest of their society because modern life alienates the individual because of the belief that older forms of authority are decayed and that the value of the individual must be appreciated. Regarding style, the focus is on innovation and multiple narrators or voices.  Emphasis is on presenting life as experienced and capturing the impression of a moment. The focus is on psychological reality and use of fragmentation, juxtaposition, symbols, metaphor, allusions as well as open or ambiguous endings (Holt, 1996; Thorne, 2006).1.1 Symbolism Symbolism is a literary movement that appeared in France in the 1850s. With its practitioners such as Charles Baudelaire and others, it has exerted a profound influence on the twentieth-century literature. Symbolism is the representation of things through the use of symbols. It is a way of presenting a person’s inner and psychological world. This movement developed as a revolt against the dominance of positivism, which focused on rationality, objectivity, and scientific methods, whereas the symbolists tried to convey their internal, personal, and irrational thoughts (Yeganeh, 2006; Cuddon, 1998). Furthermore, symbolism also reacted against realistic and naturalistic expressions in literature, which attempted to accurately portray the external world of human society and nature through descriptions of objective reality. During the end of the nineteenth century, many writers began to criticize the materialism of their society. Therefore, they turned to symbolical expressions of their dreams, visions, inner world as well as poetry. They wished to liberate poetry from its expository functions to describe the hidden mystery of existence through the use of metaphors and images. Undoubtedly, the goal of most symbolist poets was to create art that would express their dreams. In other words, they sought to find ways through which they could convey their psychological and philosophical manifestations of living. Also, symbolism has left a profound influence on twentieth-century poetry. In other words, the symbolist poets were explicitly concerned with expressing various elements of the internal life of the individual. Finally, there was an emphasis on subjective, mental impressions, internal moods, and emotional states of human beings in reaction against the preceding century’s focus on objective and external realities perceived through scientific methods (Yeganeh, 2006; Milne, 2009).     1.2 Robert Frost ?Robert Frost along with Wallace Stevens and T. S. Eliot is one of the famous and outstanding American modernist poets. Frost was born in San Francisco, California in 1874. However, similar to most modernist poets, He began to write his poems in new and different styles, but unlike most other poets, he also attempted to keep some of the traditional aspects of poetry. Frost’s best-knownworks include “The Road Not Taken” 1916, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, “Home Burial”, “Mending Wall”, and   “Fire and Ice”.?Moreover, Frost is mostly recognized for his realistic expression and depiction of rural life and his use of American colloquial speech. Despite the pastoral elements predominant in his poems, he is still a modern poet because his poetry deals with the awareness of the problems of men living in the modern world dominated by science and technology. In fact, his poetry portrays the disintegration of values in modern life and the disillusionment of the modern man. Many of his poems concentrate on man’s suffering from loneliness and frustration, regret, and disillusionment which are known as the moderndiseases (Baym, 2013). ?It was abroad that Frost was influenced by some prominent contemporary British poets such as Edward Thomas, Robert Brooke, and Robert Graves. While he was in England, he also established a friendship with the excellent imagist poet Ezra Pound, who helped to promote his work. Additionally, because Frost was a talented poet, during his lifetime, he was honoured with several prizes which include four Pulitzer prizes for poetry. Therefore, he was considered by many as the most significant and famous American poet of the twentieth century. On January 29th, 1963, Robert Frost died at the age of eighty-eight in Boston, Massachusetts (Holt, 1996). 1.3 The Main Characteristics of Frost’s Poetry?It is evident that Frost’s poetry abounds in plains, mountains, woods, and rivers, but his attitude toward nature is different from the romantics because he is realistic and modern. For him, nature is not a world of dream; sometimes it is much more horrible and hostile than the modern world. Thus, his realistic treatment of nature, use of symbolic and metaphysical techniques, and the representation of the human awareness of the problems of the modern world in his poetry truthfully allow him to be a modern poet. ?In fact, Frost’s poetry explicitly is concerned with demonstrating the dilemma of the modern mind, for instance, “The Road Not Taken” represents the confusion which prevails in modern life. The speaker of the poem does not know which way to take, and it is complicated for him to choosebetween two identical roads; he is perplexed. Because symbolism as a poetic technique was adopted by Frost which made him a modern poet, the poem symbolises the universal problem of making a choice (Bloom, 2003). ?Furthermore, simplicity and clarity are also one of the characteristics of Frost’s poetry. Unlike Eliot’s poetry, his poems are precise and do not give any space for ambiguity. Also, Frost realistically expresses the conflict touched by everybody; hisrealism is enriched with optimism. He has a balanced philosophy of life because he is neither a pessimist nor the sort of optimistic who fails to see the realistic sense of nature and existence. Another essential feature of his poetry is the use of dramatic quality such as “Home Burial”. In this poem, the scenes and characters are shown as if there is a stage play (Bhaliya, 2016). As Randal Jarrell (an American poet, novelist, and literary critic) cited by Ashapure (2016), says: “Frost’s virtues are extraordinary. No other living poet has written so well about the actions of ordinary people; his wonderful dramatic monologues or dramatic scenes came out of knowledge of people that few poets have had, and they are written in a verse that uses, sometimes with absolute mystery, the rhythm of actual speech”. ? Robert Frost is also considered a metaphysical poet in the tradition of Emerson and Emily Dickenson because he attempts to penetrate into the unseen to reveal the tension between the simple and the mystery. Lyrical quality is another significant characteristic of his poetry as well. In some of his famous poems, he employs the lyric form. The necessary feature of a lyric is its musicality. Moreover, a lyric gets its musical effects by traditional techniques of rhyme, meter, and stanza forms. Thus, Frost keeps some of the traditionalmethods. “The Road Not Taken” is among the most important lyrics on which his fame is based. Frost appreciates the colloquial, idiosyncratic, and voice of the New England farmer. He is concerned with the connection between sound and meaning. As Beach (2003, p. 13) writes Frost advocates “the sound of sense by which he meant that poetry should communicate through its sound even before we grasp its semantic meaning”. Accordingly, Frost introduces poetry with a new and rural dialect that had not been used by previous poets. Moreover, he rejected the verse of most poets of the time because he attempted to write a sort of poetry that more concentrates on the reality of rural life as well as its language. In sum, the chief characteristic of Frost’s style is simplicity. He triedto use a plain and natural language characterised by lack of multi-syllable words and also he avoided a formal diction. Finally, his style was colloquial because of avoiding words that would seem unusual.   1.4 “The Road Not Taken”Two roads diverged in a yellow woodAnd sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fairAnd having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that, the passing thereHad worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black.Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.  I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood and I- I took the one less traveled by,And that has made all the difference.    ?1.5 Critical Analysis of the Poem”The Road Not Taken” was published as the first poem in Frost’s collection of poetry in 1916 entitled Mountain Interval. The poem is a lyric, consisting of four stanzas, each of five lines. As lyric poems usually express the poet’s emotional states and feelings, Frost has employed a simple language to encourage readers keep thinking about the broad interpretation of the poem’s simple presentation of words. The poem seems to be set on a forest road during the autumn season. In the first stanza, the speaker while travelling in the woods where the leaves of the trees had turned yellow came across a junction where two roads diverge. Immediately, he realises that as a traveller going both the roads at the same time is impossible. For a long time, he stands there and attempts to choose which road he is going to take. He stares down one of the roads, trying to see where it goes, but the plants and greenery of the forest block his vision. Then, in the next stanza, the speaker describes the other road which was as similar as the first one. In fact, the second road was a better choice for him because it had more grassthan the first one. Moreover, it had been less chosenby travellers who once had come across the same choice like him.In the third stanza, the poet again found both roads looking the same because he could not choose the right one as no step had destroyed the leaves on the roads. The poet decides to take the first one some other day in the future. However, this decisioncould not be made with any certainty. The poetknew that one road leads to another; he might never have the chance to come back again. In the last stanza, he expresses failure in choosing the right path. He is disappointed about failing to make the right decision. The poet took the way that no one else did, and that is what has made all the difference either for good or bad (Batool, 2014). This poem revolves around the main idea of making a choice in life. The paradox of the poem is that the poet has the choice to take one of the paths that are equally fair. He made this situation paradoxical because he decides to take the road less travelled by, whereas in reality, both are equally fair. The irony is that the speaker chooses the one that is less travelled and claims “that has made all the difference”. Although previously, he said that both roads are equally fair. They looked identical. Furthermore, the choice of the road in life is not only the poet’s problem but all the travellers that had faced the same situation. This means the poet is addressing a situation or confusion that is common for everyone.  The whole poem is a metaphor. Metaphorically, the roads only represent choices people must make in their lives when they have the opportunity to decide and take a path in their journey of life. In lines four and five the road has been used as a metaphor for the future. People can see the consequences of life choices and decisions in a near future just like the poet. After realising the fact that he could not take the two roads at the same time, he selected the road that changes everything. Nature also has been used as a metaphor in the poem as the woods are thick enough and a road can disappear in the undergrowth. Metaphorically, the undergrowth represents the future of the poet is uncertain. The poet made use of symbolism as a device to give the more profound interpretation. A symbol is an object that represents something else and more than its literal meanings. In this poem,some symbols are used to develop the effect of the poem. For example, the road symbolizes the journey of life. However, it implies not only ajourney but also the destination. The speaker is talking about choices people face in their lives (Tyagi, 2015). Another interpretation of the poem is that Frost had formed a deep friendship with Edward Thomas during the First World War when he was in England. Therefore, some critics believe that the poem refers to the situation in which the sense of indecision plagued Thomas.  He could not easilydecide whether it was right for him to choose a life with Frost in America or fight in the war becauseThomas was against any sort of racism and jingoism. However, Frost allows readers to understand his statement, in these two ways, that at different stages of life there will be two different feelings because change is always possible. Moreover, the poem testifies moments of epistemological crisis often are shaped by tonal ambiguity in Frost’s poetry, which is keenly aware of the limits of our comprehension of our world. As Yvor Winters cited by Wilcox (2000, p. 217) claimed that Frost is not a “spiritual drifter, but a poet committed to undermining easy confidences about our moral position”. The speaker is presenting a situation in which there is no certainty or a proper faith in the way people take to help them determine their attitudes with certainty. The epistemological problem that the poem presents is that how can people know that their decisions are right.In this poem, the speaker tries to show that life is frequently observed as a metaphorical drive.  There is no clear way that people must take, and they cannot know in advance what the path will bring to them. The speaker implies that the problem is not how people make choices, but what will be the result of their choices? As Fagan (2007) writes “Frost has perplexed readers, and no wholly adequate account of the auditory dynamics at the end of the poem has been forthcoming despite much work on the part of critics to lay bare theirony”. Because earlier in the poem, the poet is describing the roads as identical, but later he is pretending that he took the road less travelled. Therefore, in this situation, the poet has created ambiguity.   Conclusion ?Because Robert Frost was considered one of the most admired and critically acclaimed American poets, his influence still can be seen on contemporary readers. Moreover, “The Road Not Taken” was one of the poems that could attract readers’ attention more of Frost’s importance. The style of Robert Frost in this poem was based on a search for examining things that are hidden from the perception. Although it is possible for each poem to have multiple interpretations, the fact is that not all interpretations are correct; perhaps the only person who could give a precise analysis of a poem is the poet himself. ?To sum up, in this poem, Frost presented life as a metaphorical journey; he showed the difficulty of making real decisions to get the destination. The speaker of the poem was confused and frequently contradicted himself in his assessment. Finally, Frost has described the psychological chaos someone faces while making decisions on choosing the right path of life, and through use of symbolism, Frost has provided a basis for a comprehensive interpretation of the poem. ?  ?     References?Ashapure, Sh. (2016). Realistic Optimism in Robert Frost Online Ashvamegh. Available at: http://ashvamegh.net Accessed 28/10/17.  Batool, et al. (2014). Stylistic Analysis of Robert Frost’s Poem: “The Road Not Taken”. Journal of ELT and Applied Linguistics (JELTAL), Vol. 2.(4/Dec), p. 52-63.Baym, N. (2013).The Norton Anthology American Literature. Vol .2. 8TH ed. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc. Beach, C. (2003). Twentieth-Century American Poetry. New York: Cambridge University Press.Bhaliya, R. (2016). The Characteristics of Robert Frost’s Poetry. Weblog Ravi. 2nd Jan. Available at: http://ravibhaliya.blogspot.in Accessed 28/10/17.Bloom, H. (2003). Bloom’s Modern Critical Views: Robert Frost. Broomall: Chelsea House Publishers.Cuddon, J.A. (1998). Dictionary of Literary Terms &Literary Theory. London: The Penguin Group.Day, G. (2010). Modernist Literature: 1890 to 1950. London: York Press.Earl J. W., Jonathan N. B. (2000). Roads Not Taken: Rereading Robert Frost. California: The Curators of the University of Missouri. Fagan, D. (2017). Critical Companion to Robert Frost. New York: Deirdre Fagan.Holt, et al. (1996) Adventures in American Literature. Florida:  Harcourt Brace & Company. Milne, I. M. (2009). Literary Movements for Students. United States of America: Gale, Cengage Learning.Thorne, S. (2006). Mastering Poetry: New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Tyagi, A. (2015). An Analysis of Robert Frost’s Poem: “The Road Not Taken”. Journal of English Language and Literature (JOELL), Vol. 2. (4), p. 66-68.Yeganeh, F. (2006). Literary Schools. Tehran: Rahnama Press.  12 


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