Difficulty of Choice in 'The Road Not Taken'

“The Road Not Taken,” written by Robert Frost, uses an extended metaphor of a walking path to emphasize how a choice he makes at any moment could have a significant influence on his future.

Frost begins the poem by talking about the diverging roads he stumbled upon in the woods. He realizes he is only one person and can only take one path, so he examines them both in an attempt to make the best decision. The decision was not easy for him as he states, “long I stood” before he made the choice (3). To the best of his ability he studies both paths, but he is not able to see much due the paths curving and being enveloped with trees. Frost implies that he would like to obtain more information about each path by saying, “And looked down one as far as I could,” but nature prevented him from doing so (4).

In the second stanza, Frost examines both paths in depth; he notices that the second path is more attractive. He concludes that no one has taken it lately “because it was grassy and wanted wear” (8). He seems to be very indecisive though, declaring that the second path is just as pleasant as the first. The speaker seems to be searching for a logical reason to travel down one path over the other, but the reason is unobtainable.

Frost continues to search for a logical reason to choose a certain path in stanza three. He continues to analyze the paths in hopes of finding something to make his decision simpler, but both paths are almost identical. He observes that neither path has been traveled lately because the leaves have not been walked on. It starts to become apparent to Frost that he is not going to find a clear reason to choose a certain path. The speaker knows he needs to make a decision, so he decides to take the second path. He tells himself that he will come back to the forest and take the first path another day. Frost uses an exclamation mark after line 13 to express his excitement of finally making a decision and being able to walk down both paths eventually. His excitement quickly weakens when reality sets in. He acknowledges that one road can lead to another and that he may end up very far from where he started. He doubts he should ever come back, as much as he wishes he could.

The tone in the last stanza, stanza four, changes drastically. The speaker jumps forward in time to reflect on his decision. He says he will be telling this story “somewhere ages and ages hence,” which implies that the story is important to him (17). He then proceeds to repeat the first line of the poem, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” with a few modifications; he removes the word “yellow” and inserts the words “and I” (1). By doing this the speaker has emphasized that important part of the poem, the idea of choosing between two different paths.

The speaker sums up his story in the last two lines of the poem. Frost states that he “took the one less traveled by”; even though he said the paths were almost equal, he believes that the one he chose was a little less worn (19). He believes that taking the path that was less worn than the other “made all the difference” in his life (20).

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Difficulty of Choice in 'The Road Not Taken'. (2021, Mar 16). Retrieved April 19, 2024 , from

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