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Why is Robert Frost's poem called "The Road Not Taken?"

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user8571118 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 29, 2013 at 6:45 PM via web

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Why is Robert Frost's poem called "The Road Not Taken?"

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wordprof | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 29, 2013 at 7:41 PM (Answer #1)

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A poem has many layers of meaning, and in this poem, Frost is not simply describing a time in his life when he was taking a walk and chose one roads over another, but rather he is building an analogy, using s physical description to describe an abstraction – those times in our lives when we make decisions that shape the rest of our lives.  One of the meditative or contemplative times in our mature thinking is when we ask ourselves “How would my life have been different if I had made a different decision -- married someone else, went to a different college, took a different job, etc. -- ?”  So the poem is really about that contemplation, about imaging “the road not taken”, about looking at those now lost possibilities and either regretting the choice we made or relishing the choices and their consequences – the “road not taken” may have been bumpy, even chaotic, disastrous. So the title of the poem lets the reader understand what the real point of the poem is, and about “all the difference” the decision made.

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 29, 2013 at 9:36 PM (Answer #2)

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Note that in the last stanza, the speaker says he took the road less traveled by, indicating that he took a path most would not have taken. Many have interpreted this poem in this way but many scholars claim that this is a misinterpretation. Keep in mind that the speaker says this with a "sigh":

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference. 

Clearly, the road he chose has made all the difference in his life. And the speaker wonders where the road not taken would have led him. But note in the second stanza that the roads looked the same: ". . . the passing there / Had worn them really about the same." The roads looked the same. This is why the speaker, in the last stanza, says with a "sigh" that he took the road less traveled by. He took one road of two that looked the same; therefore neither road looked less traveled. While wondering about what the road not taken would have been like, the speaker is essentially trying to convince himself that he took the more special road, the road less traveled by. In other words, with that "sigh" he tries to put his mind at ease, telling himself/the reader that he took the less traveled, more difficult road. The fact is that he made a choice between two options that looked equally intriguing. In the end, he wonders about the road not taken and he muses to himself that he took the more interesting path. 

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usagolsem | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted September 19, 2013 at 4:45 PM (Answer #3)

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The title itself produces a trickery riddle like title that gives two possible senses. We can consider  the road which was not taken by which people did not take or the poet did not take. It is no clear even when the poet says

..........and I -

I took the one less travelled by

that means the road is what people have not taken , on the othe hand he is talking about the road he had not taken. Both can be applied in an ambiguity and consequence is brought by such atmosphere. Thus the real meaning of the thing is left to the readers suitably in both states. This is all that enhances the mystery and quality of the poem. So the poet gives its title so.

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