Below, you’ll find an example answer for an Unseen Poetry Question (The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost).

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In ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost, how does the poet present ideas about making important decisions?  

In “The Road Not Taken”, Frost makes the readers think deeply about the decisions that they will make in life, as some choices are final and only a one-time decision which may affect the rest of their lives, and could possibly lead to negative consequences. The poet also highlights the fact that some paths are more appealing but risky, whereas paths that look difficult at first are actually more successful. Frost wants us to realise that it’s important to take time to think before making a final decision, if we’re logical about our decisions then we will make better choices, which in turn creates a more positive impact on our lives.  

Firstly, Frost explores the idea that making important decisions is difficult, because it can affect the future and the outcome of our lives. The imagery of ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood’ creates an extended metaphor throughout the poem, suggesting the two different choices that will be made in life, that are leading to the future, and in this case, the woods. The concrete noun ‘wood’ creates an image of uncertainty. It shows that the choices are very unstable and anything could happen, like in the real woods where people can get lost. The symbolism of “yellow” could suggest warning and caution due to the fact that anything could go wrong. On the other hand, the bright imagery could mean happiness and success. This colour also represents the autumn season which is close to winter, and the end of the year. Metaphorically this could suggest the end to a person’s future or life.

In addition, the fact that some decisions are messy and dangerous is explored. The metaphor  ‘it was grassy and wanted wear’ suggests that the grassy path is a more risky option than a normal flat, dirt path. In reality, paths with grass shows that they have not been used for a long time, meaning it may lead to a dead end or other dangers. But at the same time the dirt path shows that it is frequently crossed, and leads to progression. The description of ‘grassy’ and its green colour may be used as a trap because of its friendly, natural image, but it actually leads to loss or failure. Metaphorically, it seems easy from first impressions, but is actually harder than expected. On the other hand, the flat path may be dull and initially difficult, but is much easier to complete. Furthermore, the alliteration and personification of ‘wanted wear’ reveals that the path is trying to find people who may be qualified, and ask to be followed through their future. The readers may be able to relate to this and agree that there are ideas which seem appealing, but then change their mind to go for a safer option. Some decisions can be risky and could lead to a bad future.

How to Approach an Unseen Poetry Question

Finally, Frost demonstrates that sometimes taking risks and making more unusual choices can be rewarding. The final lines of the poem ‘I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.’ suggests the importance of making decisions that are right for an individual person, rather than copying the actions of others.The phrase ‘less traveled’ shows how important it was for Frost that he chose an unusual path in life, and the ending of the poem ‘all the difference’ implies that his risky choice paid off in the end. However, this line is also ambiguous and we could interpret it to mean that it made a big difference, but that difference is not positive nor negative, as he could have had an equally fulfilling life if he’d chosen the opposite path. Frost suggests to his audience that so long as they think deeply about the decisions they are making and commit to them once they have decided, they will be happy with the outcome of their life. 

In conclusion, Frost shares the idea that there are many important decisions that will be made in life and these could go completely wrong if not thought through carefully, but could also lead to a success if time is taken to consider the different options. He also states that people should stay aware of paths that seem simple, but risky, as well as paths that are challenging or time-consuming but helpful. The more you think before making a decision, the better that decision will turn out to be. 

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