The poem “The road not taken” by Robert Frost outlines a scenario every human being on the planet has encountered. The images and emotions evoked are masterfully woven into the style that Frost used. Using the formalist approach this poem is easily stripped down to the intent of sharing a common decision making process with the readers. Robert Frost is able to skillfully use writing techniques to share a common experience of which road to take in life and create a poem that evokes those memories every time.In “The road not taken” the use of vivid imagery was employed to create a realistic environment within the imagination. An image is defined as “A distinct representation of something that can be experienced and understood through the senses (sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste), or the representation of an idea.
Writers use precise language in developing images, or imagery, in literature. ” (Clugston, 2010). Some of the images that Robert Frost uses in his poem “The road not taken” can be seen in the lines “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” and “in leaves no steps had trodden black” (cited in Clugston, 2010).These lines easily paint a picture in the imagination of a setting that the reader can visualize and interact with. Robert Frost also uses the persona element. This is defined a character assumed by an author in a written work (“Merriam-Webster dictionary,”).
When it is used in analyzing literature, persona refers to the narrator in a story or the speaker in a poem, who may or may not reflect the perspective of the author (Clugston, 2010). This is used by Frost to allow the reader to experience the poem as one that each person goes through.The poem captured my interest through the use of images and persona.
The ability of Robert Frost to use these elements and weave a poem that relates to the proverbial “fork in the road” drew me into the text. I was able to relive my critical life path decisions by reading the poem. I was also able to relate the poem to Robert Frost and the decisions he had to make in his life, especially some of the major path choices. The formalist approach to literary criticism is the one I chose. This is accomplished by focusing on the form and the development of the text.
The formalist approach also encourages the reader to become aware of the text as a living act (Svendsen, 1965). Asking a few key questions that help dissect and bring the underlying structure to light will reveal the authors intent (Clugston, 2010). By using this approach “The road not taken” by Robert Frost can be broken down and the underlying messages can be seen much easier.
The question “what makes the setting so memorable? ” can be answered very easily. The setting is a place that all humans have been in at one time; diverging roads are a very common choice in our daily lives. What point of view was used? ” is easily seen as the persona viewpoint. This allows the reader to become quickly drawn into the setting through seeing this as not an individual challenge but one that everyone can encounter. In conclusion, Robert Frost was able to share a commonplace feeling and decision process with the readers of his work “The road not taken”. Vivid imagery and the use of the persona viewpoint create a living and realistic setting that the reader can connect with and relate to.
Through the formalistic approach to literary criticism the underlying intent of the poem was revealed. The questions “what makes the setting so memorable? ” and “What point of view was used? ” were answered through this process and allowed the reader to critically see what Frost was truly conveying. The decision of which road to take is a feeling every human is very familiar with; Robert Frost masterfully brought that feeling to the world of poetry and evoke the memories every time it is read.