ENG 125 Final Paper Symbolism in Literature

Topics: Symbolism, Robert Frost, Symbol Pages: 7 (2619 words) Published: November 18, 2013


Frost and Rhys: Symbolism in Literature
ENG125: Introduction to Literature
Instructor: Jonathan Wilson
October 28, 2013

Frost and Rhys: Symbolism in Literature
“Our journey had advanced—our feet were almost come to that odd Fork in Being’s road—Eternity—by Term”, (Dickinson, 1890). Life is a journey. In Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” (1916), a man comes up to a fork in the road, and he must make a choice as to which direction to take. In Jean Rhys’ short story “Used to Live Here Once” (1976), a woman is walking down a road remembering things along the road that were different the last time she saw them. The road itself is a symbol of life’s journey. Both Frost’s poem and Rhys’ short story are very good pieces of literature and are similar to one another. Taking a closer look and breaking down both the poem and short story will show the symbolism of the journey, the journey which is called life.

The mood of a piece of literature sets the stage for emotions. Clugston states that “tone is the mood or attitude reflected in a literary work”, and that “every writer develops a mood or tone designed to fire up feelings”, (Clugston, 2010). The tone allows the reader to feel happy, excited, questioning, determined, stressful, or many other emotions. The tone in “The Road not Taken” is that of a slow paced man, casual, comfortable, and calm. The man seems to not be in a hurry at all, which re-emphasizes the tone, where it states “long I stood, and looked down one as far as I could. To where it bent in the undergrowth”, (Clugston, 2010). This man stands at the fork of the road for a long time and examines each of the roads. He cannot see the end of each road because the road extends further than his vision will allow, “to where it bent in the undergrowth”, (Clugston, 2010). Venturing on in the poem, the traveler seems to not be worried that the roads are pretty much the same. Both of the roads we equally worn, and both showed no indication of what was at the end of each road. Alas, a choice must be made to travel down one of the roads, for the traveler could not travel down both, nor does he seem worried about which road to take. In Rhys’ short story, “Used to Live Here Once”, the mood is somewhat similar. Rhys even wrote that “yet it was the same road and she walked along feeling extraordinarily happy”, (Clugston, 2010), which shows that the girl was happy and content with the choices that she made. The tone within both literary pieces seem to be symbolic of both characters being happy with the road they have taken.

The journey of life, the theme, is the container for the poem and short story. “Theme will attempt to hold all the elements of your story in place. It is like a cup. A vessel. A goblet. The plot, characters, dialogue, setting, voice, and everything else are all shaped by the vessel”, (Bain, 2010). The theme of “Used to Live Here Once” is about a woman’s journey after life. Her journey into discovering that everything had grown up around her, things had changed, she had changed, and is returning to a place that she once called home. “This story gently led the reader down a winding path of spiritual discovery…the journey from beginning to end leads the reader and the character to one major conclusion, she is dead”, (Grecinger, 2012). It’s almost as if her spiritual discovery was on where she was reborn, she dropped out of life for an unknown time, and then she dropped back in to experience it again. However, this time she was experiencing her life, she was dead. “The Road Not Taken” speaks of a common scenario in life. The journey being decisions that have to be made, one door opening and the other closing, continuing on through life, and understanding that the choices you make ultimately determine your future. “One could say that the traveler has come upon a place in his life where he must make a life decision before continuing on his...

References: A.B. (1993). Symbolism. New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry & Poetics, 1256-1259.
Bain, T. (2010). Theme is what unifies your story. Writer (Kalmbach Publishing Co.), 123(3), 21-55.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California; Bridgeport Education, Inc.
Dickinson, E. (1980). Time and Eternity: XXII. The Journey. Poems By Emily Dickinson, Three Series, Complete, 97.
Dickstein, M. (2010). Career, life, and influence: on Robert Frost. Critical insights: Robert Frost, 3-11.
Dr. L. (2013). Symbolism in literature. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/6472314/Symbolism-in-Literature
Grecinger, M. (2012). “I used to live here once” by Jean Rhys: A theme analyzation. Retrieved from http://bryteyedgemini.hubpages.com/hub/SHORTSTORYELEMENTS
setting. (1995). Merriam-Webster 's Encyclopedia of Literature, N.PAG.
Lorcher, T. (2010). Robert Frost Poems: An analysis of “The Road Not Taken”. Retrieved from http://www.brighthub.com
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