In "The Road Not Taken" how does one path differ from the other and what is the symbolic meaning of the road?

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droxonian eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The "road" in Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" is a metaphor for the journey of life. Life has traditionally often been envisaged as a road down which we progress from birth to death; in Frost's poem, while walking down this metaphorical road, the speaker encounters a fork, a point at which "two roads diverged," and must decide which path to take.

Each of these paths represents a choice in life. It is notable that neither road is necessarily better than the other—it is not the case that the speaker is forced to choose between an overgrown, unnavigable path and one that is well-paved. On the contrary, the speaker's decision is difficult: the speaker is "sorry [he] could not travel both," because both look appealing. The decision depicted is supposed to be a difficult choice between two equally viable options.

In the end, however, the speaker takes the path which is "just as fair" as the other, but is "grassy and wanted wear." This is "the road less travelled by" and the poet feels it "has made all the difference." What he means by this is that, despite the fact that both choices looked viable and he could have taken either, he is pleased that, of the two choices, he took the less popular one. It has changed the speaker's journey to have gone in a direction fewer people chose to take.

lcassidy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" the roads which are mentioned are a metaphor for life.  More specifically, the paths are symbols for the decisions we have to make in life.  The physical difference between these two roads are that one was grassy and less traveled, whereas the other was more worn by passers by.  The symbolism of the two roads is that the other path, the one that is not taken, is representative of the easy road.  This of course is the path that most people will take in life.  The other; however, the one the narrator chose was the more difficult road.  At the end of the poem, the narrator comments that given the chance, he would not have made the same decision again. He also admits that for better or worse, this choice has made all the difference in his life.  It is also noteworthy to mention that the title of the work is “The Road Not Taken” when the poem is clearly about the road he did take.  This merely refers to the fact that we always look back at the important decisions we make in life by thinking about the option we did not take. 

kanikasarin | Student

One path differs frm other as one is less taken by the people whereas the other is more opted bu the people...the poet chooses the path less opted by and it makes all the difference in his life..

SYMBOLIC MEANING- the roads in this poem tell about the decisions we have to make in life.Just as the poet is confused about the road he should take in the same way a stage comes in our life when we have to take a decision which will effect our whole life. At that time we are in a confusion and we have to make a decision after lot of thinking. We do not know the results we will face after the outcome of our decision comes out.Thus, the poem is a subjective poem which tells about the difficulties on has to face while making choices.