In the poem The Road Not Taken: What do you think causes the speaker to select the road that he does take? In the poem The Road Not Taken: What do you think causes the speaker to select the...

In the poem The Road Not Taken: What do you think causes the speaker to select the road that he does take?

In the poem The Road Not Taken: What do you think causes the speaker to select the road that he does take?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I love this poem. Your question is a really good one.

I would suggest that the speaker finds satisfaction in finding his own way, not in doing what everyone else is doing.

Choices are put before us every day, and we never know what may come of the simplest choice: a turn we take, a person we speak to. Trend setters still exist, and marketing firms are always looking for them to appeal to those who all want to, for instance, dress the same. The trend setter sets the standard, but by the time others catch on, he or she has already moved on, with a desire to be different than the crowd.

I expect the speaker is not interested in following the flock. Perhaps, too, he enjoys the sense of risk-taking in following a path that is not well-used: deciding to do something because it IS different. Perhaps it is the excitement that comes with a new adventure. Explorers were these kinds of people.

I believe the person speaking in the poem wants to do things his way, and that is a different way. Of course, he realizes later that his perception wasn't quite accurate, but even though others had followed the same path in equal numbers to the first path, HE made HIS choice on his terms, and perhaps that was unique in itself, as unique as the speaker himself is.

bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem deals with the choices we must make in life and the consequences of those choices. When the speaker of the poem comes upon the two different paths in the woods, he must choose one or the other since he can't take both that day. At first, he feels one of the paths hasn't been chosen as often as the other, so he decides to choose that one, expressing his belief that he has chosen a different path in life for himself, one that would represent his individuality. However, in lines nine through twelve, the speaker contradicts that the path he chose was less travelled, saying the two paths were just about equal. The speaker also realizes that he will probably never go back and follow the other path to see what awaits him there, and this will cause him to "sigh" when he looks back on his choice because he will never know what opportunities he missed by taking one path over the other. But, the speaker has to make a choice, and that choice will determine the course his life takes.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the poem The Road Not Taken the poet is making an allegorical statement that basically says "there is no need to follow the steps of others". Often in life we are asked over an over to choose from a series of decisions that are based on the decisions that others before us have taken. That, would be the "known path", or the comfortable choice. This is a choice which apparently is taken because it assures one to achieve what others have achieved before.

Yet, isn't that a predictable and potentially boring and "sheep-like" choice? What if one chooses voluntarily to NOT follow the steps of others, and take the chance to build our own journey? What if one's own choices (and not the others') are the correct ones, and the ones who bring us to happiness?

That was what made all the difference for the poet, and this is why this poem is so beautiful.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although we are presented with the tantalising prospect that one path is less travelled than the other, as other editors have noted, the speaker later on contradicts this idea. This perhaps symbolises the state we find ourselves in when we want to be "an individual" and follow our own path - perhaps individualism is harder to attain after all. In a sense, the poem presents us with a dilemma that all of us have had to confront, and how the decision haunts us in our future as we think back about how impossible it often is to make another decision.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are some excellent points raised here about the necessity and inevitiblilty of choice, decision and consequence which exemplify the human journey. However I think there is another angle, which is that there is no 'Road Not Taken'. Both of the paths have been travelled before. Though the narrator chooses the 'less travelled' route, and he contemplates the route taken by others, he is not as radical and independent in his route as he could have been. He is still a follower.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm not sure we should assume that the sigh is of relief for the path he has taken.  It could just as easily be a sigh of regret that he made a choice he did.  There is certianly no proof in the poem that the path has brought joy.   The path was a choice, just like all the choices we all make everyday.  Every choice we make, especially the big ones, will "make all the difference," good or bad, and we just have to deal with that.  The ambiguity is what makes this poem so great!

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with bmadnick.  "The Road not Taken" is a poem of reality--we must all choose, and there are always consequences both good and bad to our choices.  Notice the name of the poem is not "The Road Less Traveled."  Instead, he titled the poem for the choice he did not make.  Wherever the road he chose took him, he clearly had some regret or wistfulness--or at least nostalgia--regarding the path he did not take.  That's something nearly all of us understand.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the discussion of the "road not taken," there is also the hint of the obsessive here.  Since Frost wrote his poem as a satire of an indecisive friend, Edward Thomas, who later fretted whether the choice of walking paths that he and Frost had gone down had as much flora as another, there is this suggestion of the "worry-wart" here in the poem.  He sighs as he continues to ponder the choice he has made.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As this poem is frequently misinterpreted (as one path being less traveled choose that one), I'm glad that other posters have recognized that neither is significantly different in terms of travel. This poem is about making choices and making those choices, regardless of which path down which they lead, work for our lives.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that he chooses that path because he feels that he is expressing his individuality in taking the path less traveled. I am not sure that the sigh is in regret of making that decision or a sign that he is content with his decision.

is00 | Student

In human life there can not be any fixed or straight way.Man's requirements are varied.Complex and materialistic world tests a man in every action.The poet is not just telling about his dilemma of choosing the' right' path at a crucial juncture;he is talking about the problem of taking right decision at the required moment.Every person initially passes through a state of doubt before beginning any work whether big or small .Shakespeare in his most problematic play Hamlet demonstrated the problem in a very clear manner.Hamlet's soliloquy 'To be or not to be' refers the eternal state of dilemma one has to pass through before beginning any work.Making correct choice paves the way of success and vice versa.Again, following the traditional paths one can not expect to excel.The beaten track of life is just for the ordinary people.Anybody having extraordinary talent should move in the second path like the poet.This difference in making the choice ,ultimately creates the difference and makes one superior like the poet.Here Robert Frost is talking about his chosing the less-significant Regional trend of American poetry in stead of writing in the main-stream of poetry of  his time.

salmanameerassadi | Student


aartihelpdesk | Student

The poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, manifests the message of uniqueness. Frost gives a uniform message  throughout  the poem - Choose your own path.

Frost stumbles upon a fork in his path. One is less trodden upon and the other is a frequent passage for many. Frost's nature makes him take the uncommon path. He knows that once he chooses the path, he will not be able to return, but he is ready to take the risk, hence his choice also symbolizes risk-taking.

At the end, he says that with a sigh(of relief) that it was this path which has made the difference in his life. It is this path which has brought him immense joy, wealth and above all, satisfaction.

Frost advocates the saying,

Winners don't do different things,

They do things, differently.

Read the study guide:
The Road Not Taken

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