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Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away.”
These opening lines mark the commencement of the imaginative journey through the world created by Dr. Seuss in his picture book, “”Oh the Places You’ll go!” ,an allegory of Life and its possibilities. Robert Frost also explores the same concept in his poem The Road not Taken.
It is clear from both texts a journey of the imagination influences and shapes one’s perspective of the world and often results in transformation.
“Oh the Places you’ll Go” motivates personal growth through gaining an understanding of the complexities of life, inspiring optimism and perseverance.
The Road Not Taken however emphasizes the significance of decisions one makes in their life and how such decisions are the catalysts to the person they become.
In the characteristic style of Dr. Seuss, ‘oh the places you’ll go’; is written in rhyme with a light tone. The language is simple, utilizing many metaphors, both visually and written.
The imaginative journey alludes to all aspects of life; the positives through grinning purple elephants while the negatives are personified into “Hakken Kraks”. The author rejoices in everyone’s potential to fulfill their dreams: “You’ll be on your way up! / You’ll be seeing great sights!” While at the same time, he is realistic about the pitfalls of life: “grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place”
This distinctive style with the balance of absurdity and the relative indifference to the philosophical message being unveiled is what heightens the books appeal to a wide audience.
Hence the imaginative journey is not subject to age constraints and as a result, both young and old are able to experience growth or a change in their perspectives.
“Oh The Places You’ll Go” has no distinct characters, except for the direct address ‘you’, supported by a young figure, the indicative of ‘you’ who visually carries out the imaginative journey, over colorful checkerboard landscapes, through mazelike streets. A direct personal link is established and the responder is able to literally perceive the imaginative journey. The Road Not Taken also achieves a personal connection through its style of first person, creating intimacy and the imagery of the road. From this we see the imaginative journey assists the reader in becoming personally involved with the text, the reader is able to engage with the story and hence draw insights and a greater understanding of the issues.
Despite “Oh The Places you’ll Go” portraying both the positive and negative aspects of life, the imaginative journey ends with a return to reality and the optimistic message, ‘And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!’ Although labeled with the warning “to be dexterous and deft. And NEVER mix up your right foot with your left.”
In contrast to the enthusiastic tone of Dr. Seuss, “The Road Not Taken”, is contemplative and its message more cautious, to think hard about any forks in the road, for it could “make all the difference.” He suggests that perhaps journeys have no ending as “way leads on to way,” one choice is followed by another and it is simply impossible to recreate the past. Hence we can see how one can change as a result of an imaginative journey, even if there is not a destination.
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