Journeys affect each individual in different ways; some are impacted monumentally while others go through events with little or no change. Through character development found in Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest’ as well as the inner conflict depicted through poetic techniques in Robert Frost’s ‘The Road not Taken’, my understanding of the impact that journeys have has been shaped so that I now appreciate that through emotional and physical events, a deeper insight on life is developed.
The Tempest focuses mainly on the emotional transformation of the protagonist Prospero, though other characters experience a change within themselves and how they perceive humanity. The fact that Prospero undergoes such a significant transformation whilst his brother, Antonio, seems untouched by the events and says nothing that hints at the smallest morsel of repentance shows that, though they are both submitted to similar circumstances, the journey has impacted them both in different ways.
Although all the actions are aimed at showing the shipwrecked characters their faults, Antonio and Sebastian’s plot to kill their kind demonstrates that they are incapable of change and gives weight to Prospero’s story, causing viewers to empathize with him. Comparisons and contrasts between personalities such as Gonzalo with his idealism and Antonio with his cynicism aid in the development of the characters and the ideas they present.
The Road Not Taken Presentation
The play is opened with a dramatic storm, symbolizing the political upheaval and imbalance caused by Prospero’s brother, Antonio, and the King, Alonso, usurping his rightful position as Duke of Milan. The central plot to the play is Prospero’s plan to seek revenge, his bitterness evident when he says to Ariel, “with their high wrongs I am struck to th’quick”. Shakespeare’s use of magic illusion through the spirit Ariel allows the story to travel beyond the realm of the factual and makes use of imaginative journeys, giving the island a mysterious unknown quality which drives the plot.
This, along with imagery through numerous adjectives “watery arch” assists in the creation of an imaginative atmosphere. The changes within Prospero are gradual but easily seen by his affections towards the relationship between his daughter Miranda and Alonso’s only son, Ferdinand. His pity eventually leads to the total forgiveness (“I do forgive thee/ unnatural as thou art”) of the injustices delivered to him and his daughter 12 years prior. His honorable characteristics are highlighted with virtuous speech such as, “Yet with my nobler reason ‘gainst my fury/ do I take part.
The rarer action is virtue than in vengeance”. Prospero’s emotional conflicts and personal journey concludes when he is restored his title and makes plans to return to Milan. Before he does this he forfeits his powers in a soliloquy, “this rough magic/I now abjure” and frees his followers Ariel and Caliban. He desires to once again live his old life and has realized power is not what is important. This shows a true alteration in him as a person. A different journey is depicted in the poem ‘The Road not Taken’.
It shows inner conflict as well as the unpredictability of journeys when the narrator unexpectedly reaches a fork in the road. He is “sorry I could not travel both” as he cannot tell which leads on to a better journey (“the other, just as fair”), he is forced to make a decision on which path to follow-or, which seems to be more important, which path will not be followed. The fact that he cannot tell how the paths differ symbolizes the fundamental nature of fate and how the choice is given but what will ultimately happen due to our decision depends on providence.
The narrator recalls “long I stood/and looked down one as far as I could” showing his reluctance, though in order to continue on with life, the traveler took the one that looked to be the one less traveled, though he soon finds out that that neither of the roads is less traveled by, “the passing there/had worn them really about the same”. The title of the poem being “The Road Not Taken” shows the value that the narrator puts, not in the choice he did make and live but the one that he lost, the one that he can forever wonder about but will never know.
The entire poem is an analogy of life and the sudden twists and complications found within it. Frost uses a variety of techniques in order to effectively create this metaphorical and expressive journey. It is a strictly structured poem, following an ABAAB rhyming pattern using simple language, focusing more on the underlying message in the poem as well as word association and connotations of words, for example, the grassy path is associated with ease and comfort.
Symbolism is found throughout the 4 stanzas, “the yellow wood” and the physical autumn changes symbolise the inner change occurring. The last stanza shows the narrator predicting he will be “telling this with a sigh/somewhere ages and ages hence”. It is neither positive nor negative as the poet himself is yet to find out and only knows that it was a life changing decision that “has made all the difference”.
There is however a hint of remorse, not perhaps for the opinion of a wrong decision but that the decisions themselves have marked the passing of his life-something he will never be able to get back or relive again. Both these texts include journeys of all different forms, all of which have had varying impacts on the personas and readers. Prospero, who began with a bitterness of heart and desire for revenge saw that happiness lay in the forgiveness of his fellows and it was this change within him that allowed for the desirable ending that occurred.
The traveler in ‘The Road Not Taken’ was wizened by the experiences and decisions in life, represented in his physical journey through an autumn wood. Each character was changed in a different, unique way but each gained personal growth. This demonstrates that journeys have different impacts on different people, but it is only through these encounters and lessons that they can develop and expand their knowledge or understanding of the world.