The Road to Take, or the Problem of the Right Choice in The Road Not Take and The Garden of Forking Paths example

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The Road to Take, or the Problem of the Right Choice in The Road Not Take and The Garden of Forking Paths


A man makes choice every minute of his life, and the main task facing him is to ensure that the decision made brings confidence and pacification. The process of making a choice can be compared to standing at the fork and choosing the road to take. Such comparison is notable in Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken and in Jorge Louis Borges’ short story The Garden of Forking Paths. While comparing and contrasting between the mentioned works, this essay aims to prove that although The Road Not Taken and The Garden of Forking Paths belong to different literary genres, they are united by a recurring idea of the road that alludes to the choices and decisions made throughout one’s life.

The Road: To Take or Not to Take?

In literature, the idea of the road is quite common and has a deep metaphorical meaning. It is argued that the road means choosing between several variants of events and reconciling with the choice made. The confirmation of this assumption is found in Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken. In it, the narrator describes himself standing at the fork of the two roads. He has to choose between the road that is “bent in the undergrowth” (Frost 5), and the one that is “grassy and wanted wear” (Frost 8). For the narrator, the complexity of the choice lies in the fact that although the two roads are very different, they are equally attractive. In order to illustrate the complexity of the choice to be made, the narrator notes that, “And sorry I could not travel both/And be one traveler” (Frost 2-3). Similarly, a complex choice is facing Doctor Yu Tsun, the main hero of Borges’ The Garden of Forking Paths. A Chinese professor living during World War I has to decide whether to spy for the German Empire or work for the benefit of the United Kingdom. Each of the two options has its advantages and pitfalls, which puts Yu Tsun in an even greater impasse. However, further development of events shows that Yu Tsun has much more options to choose from. His life is not a crossroad, but a garden of the forking paths.

Thus, the number of roads to be taken is deemed the main difference between The Road Not Taken and The Garden of Forking Paths. It is assumed that a difference between two straight roads and a fork of wandering paths illustrates different approaches to life and relationships inherent in Western and Eastern philosophies. Being a representative of Western philosophy, Robert Frost tends to assess one’s way of life in terms of taking wrong and right decisions. Wrong decisions seem obvious, and many people tend to take them. In Frost’s poetry, such decisions are compared to taking a beaten path. In turn, right decisions are less obvious, while making them entails a much greater responsibility. In …

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