Literature is an art which communicates an idea be in the form of poem or prose. The way the word is woven to form sentences befitting the theme, and at the same time, conveying the message is an art in itself. In fact, there are many instances where two different literary works written at different times have a similar theme to convey. One set of such two works are the poems “The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost” and “I Used to Live Here Once by Jean Rhys.” Though he titles seem different, they have something in common to share with. So, the objective of this paper is an attempt to make a comparative and contrastive interpretation and analysis between these two great works of all times in the history of literature.
As far the central and core themes are concerned, both these works are centered on journey of life. From these works’ perspectives, the journey can be physical, emotional, or sentimental. In both the cases, a physical picture is tried to be built, giving its nuances, so that the readers get a chance to imagine the physical road of progress. On the one hand, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost clearly defines two roads in the yellow woods which the persona can visualise. On the other hand, “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys paints the picture of a woman who is emotionally analysing the path trodden. The central theme is journey and moving on in life. Though written in different styles with different characters, both the literary works and their interpretation seem to convey the message that it is important to move on no matter what comes in life. Obstacles and predicament are natural in life to occur, but one needs to navigate through the defined path.
In fact, the way in which the works are written, depicts an outside environment which is symbolic to journey. In deeper meaning and analysis, it depicts the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey of life. “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is a poem where the protagonist is a man who can see two different paths through the yellow wood. One is a path crowed by the living souls and another is the greener path where no footprints can be found. Hence, no one opts for it. But, the persona selects the less-trodden path which is beautifully presented in the last line of the poetic stanza - “I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference.” This clearly shows a satisfaction and real contentment of his decision. Symbolically, the poem speaks about the dual options one has in his life, in various situations, and how treading on one chosen path, can never let you retrace your path back. The mood in the entire poetry is experiencing life, adventure, independence, and individuality.
On the other hand, “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys pictures a woman who conveys her message in the form of prose or story which uses character and background to spin the story. The woman is analysing the path of journey completely unaware of the unseen obstacles on the path. It is symbolic to a person who has stayed away from home and has returned back after a long period. The last sentence “That was the first time she knew” reveals a sense of realization and introspection. Therefore, both the works are communicating the same theme that whatever path one chooses, whether the end results is known or not known, one is sure to learn and experience something out of it. In this sense the works are somewhat similar in nature.
Some of the contrasting features of the works are that “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is narrated by a man in the style of poetry while “I Used to Live Here Once” by Jean Rhys is narrated by a woman in the form of story. “The Road Not Taken” speaks of the decision one needs to take where the final result is not known. While “I Used to Live Here Once” clearly shows that the path with the end result is known. However, the unforeseen challenges that prop in the way is the twist in the poem. The mood in Frost poetry is woven around individuality and independence, while in Jean Rhys work is more nostalgic coupled with learning. Though different in their styles and contents the central theme of ‘journey’ is maintained in both the literary works. Based on the aforementioned analysis of comparing and contrasting both the literary works it can be concluded that many works convey the same central message even though written over six decades difference. The style of narration may be different, the background and settings may be different, the plot may be different but the idea is one and that brings us to the meaning of life that says that life has a property of a never-ending journey with full of experience and learning.
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