Study Guide

Up-Hill The Road

By Christina Rossetti

The Road

Life is a highway, Shmoop's gonna ride it all night long. Oo, yeah. Okay, so maybe those aren't the exact lyrics, but you have to agree there's nothing quite like pulling onto the highway when there's not another car in sight and just being able to hit the gas and drive. Life is a highway in Rossetti's poem, too, but the path described in "Up-Hill" could not be less like the smooth, easy-driving interstate Tom Cochrane sings about. The path described here represents a lot of things depending on which interpretation of "Up-Hill" you're working with, but "the easy way out" is never one of them.

  • Lines 1-2: The road as a road: We learn right off the bat that this road "winds uphill all the way," a revelation which immediately sets the scene for a hard climb ahead. 
  • Lines 1-2: The road as human life: This is a pretty popular metaphor, and one that was certainly applicable to the lives of many people in Victorian England. The steepness and the twisty-ness, instead of representing actual turns in a real path, become symbolic of the difficulties and challenges that life throws at people. 
  • Lines 1-2: The road as the path to Christian salvation: Given Rossetti's religious fervor, it seems highly likely that at least one viable interpretation of the path in "Up-Hill" is that it symbolizes the "straight and narrow gate" discussed in Matthew 7:14, a.k.a. the path to salvation in Christ. The path is described as difficult because temptation is essentially everywhere, making it difficult to resist.
  • Lines 9-10: The bright side to this whole uphill climb is that there is a path, which means that people have made the journey before and survived.

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