Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Leading Path of Quotations

As I curate a set of quotations from Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken,” there are three familiar quotations that when read in sequence, begin In medias res and take readers down a thought-provoking path of plot.

Frost begins the poem with “Two roads diverged” to immediately seize our attention and create enough suspense to inspire further reading.  We wonder what two roads he is speaking of  and where each road will lead.  We can see the traveler (protagonist) must make a decision and we wonder how he will handle that situation.  

A quote from the third stanza gives us a better understanding for how the traveler feels as he fore shadows his decision by acknowledging “yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.”  Already we know he is weighing the significance of his decision by recognizing he will not be able to duplicate his current choice and therefore, never know what possibilities the other road holds.  We are able to feel the pressure the traveler feels with his dilemma, and we shift this burden to ourselves as we relate the dilemma into our own life.  We have become more invested in the poem.  Frost has used exposition and we long to have some resolution so as to ease this ordeal we now find ourselves taxed with.

We find that resolution at the end of the poem by reading:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I---

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

Frost has led us to denouement on this emotional
path after realizing the climax in the poem results in making a difference in the traveler’s life, which we again interpret the poem into our life by acknowledging the enormous differences a critical choice can make. 

Each quotation represents distinct incidents in the poem that have been artfully arranged, each incident building on the next in a series of causes and effects to lead us down a path of introspection.

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