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William George, in “Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken,’” describes the way in which Frost depicts three different ages of the narrator of the poem. These three different speakers all have to make a decision, and they face it in different ways. The middle-aged self is the most objective speaker, and he mocks the younger and older selves as they “are given to emotion, self-deception, and self-congratulation” (230). While the middle-aged self is able to maintain his objectivity, the younger and older selves are given to delusion and cannot maintain any objectivity.
The first part of the article describes the relation between the middle-aged self and the younger self. The younger self must make a decision about which path he will take. While the middle-aged self “stresses the similarity of the two roads,” the younger self lies to himself because he is “too dismayed with or too ‘sorry’ about the nature of choice to notice that ‘passing there / Had worn [the two roads] really about the same, / And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black’” (230). The younger self pretends that one path, the path he is going to take, is different, that it is less traveled.
The second part of the article describes the relation between the middle-aged self and the older self. The older self must make a decision about whether or not he will tell the truth about his past. “In this ‘age’ of the persona, the choice will be either to tell the truth or to lie about the choice made ‘ages and ages’ before. . . . [But] the older self ignores what the middle-aged self had come to know about that first choice: that ‘both [roads] that morning equally lay.’ Only self-aggrandizing self-deception could cause the older self to ignore what the middle-aged self clearly knows” (231).
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