person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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Describe the two roads in the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.

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This poem by Robert Frost describes the dilemma a walker faces when the path he is treading diverges into "two roads." The two roads are, in fact, nearly identical.

The first one, as the speaker looks down it, takes a bend into the undergrowth of the forest, precluding him from seeing its end. The other was "just as fair." At first the speaker believes the second path is more attractive because it seems grassier, as if fewer people have walked upon it. Reconsidering, the speaker decides that, actually, they were about equally worn. Both of the roads were covered with leaves and relatively unsullied; they had not been "trodden black" by the feet of previous travelers. The speaker must choose one of the roads, and he doubts that he will have a chance to come back to this place and try the other one in the future. He makes his choice and selects the one "less traveled by," the second one, despite the fact that he previously concluded that both paths had been more or less equally used.

The poem, in one interpretation, is about indecision and making a mountain out of a molehill. The point was simply to take one path and move on, especially since there was no appreciable difference between the two ways. The final stanza can be taken sardonically; the fact that he chose one path over the other made "all the difference," but it is impossible to know what that difference was since the other path was "the road not taken."

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The speaker in The Road Not Taken has reached a fork or crossroads in his life and, extending the metaphor, represents it as an actual road or path that forks in two directions. He is surrounded by yellow wood trees and can see the demarcated paths. To try and help him make his decision the speaker has looked along one of the paths "To where it bent in the undergrowth" whereupon he concludes to take the other, having "the better claim."

Whilst considering that one "was grassy and wanted wear," the speaker is immediately conflicted as, upon inspection both roads are in fact similar and " the passing there / Had worn them really about the same." Both roads, in fact, reveal that they are not "trodden black."

Realising his dilemma, the speaker accepts his decision to take the " one less traveled" and save the " first for another day!" He is not convinced thought that such a day shall ever come as, having made the decision, he knows that he will probably not have an opportunity to return. His choice does prey on his mind but he will have to find satifaction in his choice having "made all the difference."

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