person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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How does the poem "The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost, symbolize or reveal a meaning or aspect of freedom and/or responsibility?

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The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost reveals the complex nature of even a seemingly simple decision. The narrator is conflicted as he thinks about which road to take and, even after some deliberation and the fact that usage "Had worn them really about the same," he can't help wondering, but then doubting "if I should ever come back." He is even trying to convince himself that he has made the best choice as, when he looks back "Somewhere ages and ages hence," he is sure that he will be able to say that he made the best choice and that it "has made all the difference."  

Accordingly, the freedom of choice given to the narrator has created its own set of difficulties for him. Instead of the excitement of new discoveries and the potential of choice, he feels burdened by the decision he must make and he is "sorry I could not travel both." Rather than concentrate on all the opportunities along the path he chooses, he considers returning to try the other road. By his own admittance, this is not likely as "way leads on to way."

This poem highlights the fact that freedom (of choice in this instance) brings with it its own set of responsibilities. Compromise, although apparently contradictory, is therefore, an element of freedom which, in itself, can be worrying and challenging and even exhausting. The poem also, perhaps, indicates the futility of over-thinking some situations. If, even trivial decisions require so much thought, how can anyone ever make life-changing decisions. Apparently for the narrator, this is life-changing. At least the choice is his to make. 

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