The Road Not Taken Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer


Robert Frost was an avid poet who lived in America between during the twentieth century. His poem “The Road Not Taken” is still one of his best works. Frost’s exceptional depictions of America’s rural life along with his mastery of colloquial speech, makes him one of the best poets of the twentieth century (Dickinson et al. 16).

In most of his works, the rural New England’s setting is used as a tool for examining philosophical and sociological themes. His work made him an American literature heavy weight managing to win him several Pulitzer prizes in the process. Frost’s stature in Poetry can only be compared to that of other notable figures like Eliot and Stevens.


In this poem, the speaker has come upon a diversion in a path in the woods. In the woods, the leaves’ color is already turning. It is in this fork that the speaker contemplates on which road to follow. The main problem is that the speaker cannot follow both paths. After examining one of the paths as far as he/she can see, he/she decides to take the other.

In the speaker’s mind, the path he /she takes is less worn out. However, the truth is that both paths are almost the same. Near the end, the speaker reflects on how he plans to try the road he/ she did not take. Nevertheless, the chances of doing this according to the speaker are very minimal.

In “The Road Not Taken”, the poet uses a reflective tone to address the significance of the choices one makes in life. In this poem, Symbolism is the tool used to bring about this reflection. The “road” referred to by the speaker is the most prominent symbol in the poem. In this case, the road refers to a path in life.

The poem addresses universal themes that are easy to relate to. In turn, this increases the poem’s audience. The poet also employs devices such as rhythms and rhymes. These make the poem easy to read and synthesize. In the end, the speaker uses a nostalgic tone when pondering on what lay on the path he/she did not take.


This poem has four stanzas. Each of the four stanzas has five lines. These five lines have a rhyme scheme of ABAAB. The poem is in the form of a narrative. Each of the lines in the poem has nine syllables. “The Road Not Taken” is one of the most popular poems by Robert Frost. Sometimes the title of this poem is mistaken for “The Road Less Travelled”. Over the years, the poem has been studied in high schools around the country.

Most analyzers classify “The Road Not Taken” as a nostalgic interpretation of personal choices. The narrator decided to use the path that is “less travelled” instead of the more popular one. The narrator also acknowledges that his/her life would have been fundamentally different if his/her choice was different. In the narrator’s view, the road not taken was more popular than the one he/she took.

Most readers find this poem easy to relate to as it is easy for them to empathize with the narrator. This is because almost everyone has been in a situation where he/she had to choose between two options. Like the narrator, in most cases one cannot see beyond the “bend in the undergrowth”. Without this knowledge of where the path would lead, the only consolation is to have faith that one made the right choice.

The narrator’s decision to follow the less popular path shows bravery. Most readers would like to possess such bravery when making life-choices. For instance, most people are in the habit of going with the more popular decisions when put in the narrator’s position. The narrator chooses to take a less safe path in the hope that those who come after him/her can emulate this.

A closer analysis of the poem reveals that the narrator’s hypothesis is somehow inaccurate. The narrator is talking about these two possible paths years after making his/her choice. For instance, when the narrator reaches the diversion point, both paths are described as being “equally fair”.

It seems that even the narrator cannot conclusively declare that one path is better than the other is. The narrator uses the term “perhaps” in justifying this choice. When the narrator is justifying his/her choice, old age has already come. Therefore, in the narrator’s admission it is impossible to find out which of these two choices is the better one.

In the first three stanzas, there is no sense of remorse in the narrator’s voice. The narrator is very confident with his/her decision (Shan 116). In addition, the narrator does not admit to the importance of this decision in his/her life. It is only later that the narrator tries to organize the events of his/her life in a manner that makes sense to both the narrator and the audience.

The need to justify this choice is perhaps a way of addressing questions pertaining to the outcome of the narrator’s life. In the end, the narrator sticks to the belief that the path taken was the less popular one. This is in a bid to let the audience know that making this choice was inevitable.

The narrator’s alludes to the fact that he/she had to make his/her choice in the morning. In the third stanza, the narrator acknowledges that he/she was at the path in the morning, and not many people had used the path at the time. This means two things, the first is that this choice was being made early in life, and the second is that there were no many examples to be followed.

These two claims successfully alert the reader about the complexity of the narrator’s situation. Most people can also relate to this by remembering the decisions they made when they were younger. This makes it easier to sympathize with the narrator. The fact that the narrator lacked a choice he/she could emulate makes the situation even more complex. This is because in such scenarios most people use other people’s experiences when making their minds.

Life is full of choices. Even the seemingly inconsequential choices can impact one’s life in a big way. This statement surrounds the poem’s main theme and message. The title of the poem is “The Road Not Taken.” Still, the poem explores the other option or the road that was taken.

Using rhymes and rhythm, the poet conveys his message skillfully. The basic argument is that even though one may be faced with difficult choices in life, one eventually has to pick a path and stick to it. The only thing one can do is to believe that the path he/she took was the right path.

Works Cited

Dickinson, Emily, et al. Four Major American Poets. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.

Shan, Liu. “A Poem of Exotic Tragic Beauty- Appreciation of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.” Science & Technology Information 19.1 (2007): 116-117. Print.

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