What is the dilemma portrayed in the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

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lsumner | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In "The Road Not Taken," the speaker is one, lone traveler. He is walking in the yellow wood when he comes to a fork in the road. The dilemma is that the speaker can only take one road. While the speaker would like to take both roads, he can only take one. He is torn between the roads. Which one should he take? 

As the speaker stands long examining both roads, he wants to take both roads, but seeing how "way leads on to way," he doubts if he shall ever come back. The dilemma is the choice that the speaker must make. He is not sure which road to take.

Life is filled with choices. We must decide which road to take. It is difficult to decide which road to take, especially when both roads look appealing. Since one road seemed to be "grassy and wanted wear," the speaker took that road and saved the other for another day:

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,

Now, the only problem is that the speaker will sigh because he could not take both roads. In fact, he shall be telling his story with a sigh  "somewhere ages and ages hence." That is the dilemma:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Ultimately, the speaker takes the road less traveled by and claims it has made all the difference:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

The dilemma is having to make a choice between the two roads. The speaker desired to go down both roads. He seems content in the end. 


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