Compare Two Robert Frost Poems, The Road Not Taken & Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Authors Avatar

Charlie Dowden        05/11/09

Compare Two Robert Frost Poems, Focusing On The Ideas That He Presents And How He Presents Them

        ‘The Road Not Taken’ and ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ are two poems by the American poet Robert Frost. The poems were both written in the early 20th century and as a result contain many features, typical of a poem at that time. The poems concern an encounter with nature and similarly are both set in woods although one is an autumnal wood and the other, as the title of ‘Stopping...On A Snowy Evening’ suggests, is set in deepest winter. It is also known that one of these woods is set in England whereas the other is in America. Furthermore, the poems concern a journey or a travel of some sort. However the journey in ‘The Road Not Taken’ is undertaken on foot whilst the other is on horseback. Both poems are a first person narrative which suggests that it might be a personal experience of the writer, especially as they feature decisions that the narrator has to take.

        The ideas explored by Frost in the two poems contain many similarities and differences. As previously mentioned, both poems concern a journey. In 'The Road Not Taken' the narrator, possibly the poet himself, is faced with a fork in the path of a 'yellow' wood. He spends a while judging which path he should possibly take and there is the feeling that, whichever road he takes, it is for good and he can’t turn back and choose the other one. He thinks properly about this and tries to see ahead as he says he “Looked down one as far I could, to where it bent in the undergrowth”. This implies that the traveller is trying to catch a glimpse of what lies ahead before actually undertaking the route, he may be apprehensive as to what is around the corner. In 'Stopping...', the narrator similarly has to make an important decision about where to go next. However it isn't a question of which route should be taken, but whether he should stay there, or move on. The narrator could quite happily spend longer there to, “Watch his woods fill up with snow”. However he knows that he must move on as he has “Promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”. It is as though the narrator is transfixed by the beauty of the snowy woods, but the only thing that stops him from staying there is his ‘little horse’, which reminds him that he has to keep going by giving “His harness bells a shake”.

Join now!

        One common interpretation of both poems could be that they are both about independence. In ‘The Road Not Taken’ for example, the narrator looks down one path then takes the other because it has the better claim and he says, “Because it was grassy and wanted wear”. In the final stanza he mentions how he ‘took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference’ which indicates that by choosing the other path; he is being rebellious and independent to everyone else. In the other poem, it is a different type of independence; the traveller appears to ...

This is a preview of the whole essay

Here's what a teacher thought of this essay


There are some good points in this essay, particularly when looking at the structure of the poems. When comparing two texts it is important to identify key differences and similarities and to fully consider the intended effects of these comparisons. This essay considers the meanings of the titles which is important when looking at poetry; it also helps to always look at the beginnings and endings of poem as analysis of these points can help understanding of a poem.