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The narrative of Frost's "The Road Not Taken"

The narrative of Frost's "The Road Not Taken" can be interpreted not only as a memory of a moment of decision about how to live and a reflection in later life of the consequences of that decision but also as an assessment of the poet's status at the moment, having experienced awareness of the result of the host of decisions that have brought him to this moment. The latter idea captures the concept of the archetypal hero's journey into experience and toward status as hero.

Initial selection of the less traveled-by, alluded to in the fourth stanza, is the initiation of the archetypal hero's journey. The level of the hero's understanding about the vicissitudes of difference between his experience and that of most others was irrelevant to his heroism; appreciation of the fact of difference in choice, however, marked him as one open to the unknown implications of the coming journey. Such knowledge is the meaning embedded in his realization that he was and could be only "one traveller" (3) and "knowing [even before the onset of the journey] how way leads on to way" (18). Interpreted from the standpoint of archetype, the moment of choice in favor of difference instead of in favor of the common and predictable is the moment that the hero accepts his role--or more exactly the tests that will determine whether he can fulfill it--and embarks on his travels with a view toward earning the label.

How can so much interpretation be attached to a manifest action in which the poet peers down one path, then the other, then stops to consider how the leaves and grass are configured on the dirt? The answer may lie in the symbolic richness of archetypal theory. Campbell's analysis of the hero's archetypal journey, or what he refers to as "the adventure of the hero" (35), cites three overarching modes of action: "a separation from the world, a penetration to some source of power, and a life-enhancing return" (35). Within that general scheme of action ar...

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The narrative of Frost's "The Road Not Taken". (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:06, July 01, 2022, from