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Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken": A Webquest

written by: erichammer • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 8/12/2012

Entertain yourself or your students as you learn about Robert Frost and "The Road Not Taken." Learn why there is so much controversy over this poem and what Frost's intentions were in writing it.

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    A Middle School Language Arts Webquest

    Welcome to the Robert Frost "The Road Not Taken" Webquest! This webquest is all about what this classic poem means to you both as a student of English literature and in real life. Throughout this webquest, you’re going to be asked to make choices. The choices you make will decide which path you take. Both paths will lead you on the road to knowledge. However, different paths may have different pieces of information. In the end, you’re going to be asked to draw a conclusion.

    The conclusion you need to make is based on two interpretations of the poem as presented by Trent Lorcher for Bright Hub Education.

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    Two Interpretations

    In one interpretation, the poem is meant to be taken literally. That means it’s telling us that when we choose the road not taken, we are doing something individual. It makes a real difference when we follow that path and we get to see things we would never have seen. Not only that, but we get to understand things about ourselves that we may not have understood.

    In the second interpretation, the poem is meant to be taken as irony. In order words, the last two lines of the poem, “I took the one less taken and that made all the difference," is meant to be read sarcastically--as if to say that it made no difference whatsoever which road was taken.

    Your mission on this webquest is to decide, does it matter if you take the road not taken or not?

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    The First Choice -- The Road Not Taken or The Easy Road

    Ready to start? Okay, start by clicking here and choosing your path (Note: This is just a picture, so come back here to see where to go next).

    So, you’ve made your choice! Congratulations. Did you decide to be brave and take the “Road Not Taken?" If so, follow path A. If you decided to be prudent and follow the other road, take path B:

    A: Your Road Not Taken webquest begins in a deep and dark part of the web. Okay, not so deep and dark. Actually, it’s quite pleasant and rustic. You’re going to visit the Robert Frost Farm State Historic Site. Here, you should note where the farm is located and when he lived there. Note also the three activities that are available here. Click here to visit the farm, a point of interest on the New Hampshire State Parks website.

    B: Ah, the safe route. Your webquest begins in a well-founded part of the web. Well, not exactly: You’re going to begin by learning about the 85th birthday party celebrated for Robert Frost at the Waldorf Astoria in 1959. Find out why Lionel Trilling suggested that Frost was a “frightening poet" and what Mr. Frost’s reaction was to Trilling’s words. Why do you think he said what he said? Click here to read all about according to Christopher Benfey blogging for The New York Review of Books.

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    The Second Challenge -- Choose a Path on the Road Not Taken

    Congratulations on fulfilling your first mission! You’re doing splendidly. Now, for your next mission, you need to answer a question: You’re walking in a forest and you see a stream. The water doesn’t look too deep and you think you could swim across, but you’re not sure. Do you

    • A: Try to swim across or
    • B: Try walking along the length of the stream and see if there is a bridge or a way to walk around it?

    Choose now!

    A: The brave path! Your next visit will be to here what Robert Frost had to say about the end of the world! Actually, you will be at PoemHunter.com, and after you read "Fire and Ice" you can move forward or backward through Frost's poems. There's also a tab for his complete biography.

    B: Once more, the safe path. Very well. Your path will continue with the Robert Frost Museum. Here, you are to find out where Robert Frost lived before taking up residence at the stone house. Take a moment also to learn more about Robert Frost, the man. Click here to continue.

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    Your Journey Is Almost Over!

    Congratulations! You’ve covered the first two challenges. Now, no matter which paths you chose, take a moment to listen to the poet himself reading The Road Not Taken at the Academy of American Poets. Draw your own conclusions about this webquest’s original point: Is the poem meant to be ironic or literal? You decide from his intonation and from what you have learned about Robert Frost. Click here to listen and then answer the following questions about the poet and the poem.

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    Questions to Answer

    1. When did Robert Frost live in a farm? Where was it located?
    2. Who were some of the contemporaries (i.e. people who lived at the same time and were also writers or poets) of Robert Frost?
    3. Who called him a terrifying poet? What was Mr. Frost’s reaction? Why do you think he said that?
    4. What did you think of the poem? Based on what you now know of Robert Frost and his poetry, was he being ironic or literal? Why do you feel that way?
    5. Why do you think there is a controversy regarding what Frost intended with this poem?
    6. In real life, does it make a difference if we choose the road not taken? Why or why not?