What is the dilemma faced by the poet in the poem "The Road Not Taken"?   

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Poetry is all about interpretation. Lots of times we look for a specific interpretation as teachers, but part of reading well is reading in between the lines and digging out a personal meaning for yourself.

The dilemma as I see it (a mere interpreter) is the problem of choice. We make choices every day. Sometimes we get tired of these decisions and stress or struggle over actually getting a decision made. Sometimes the decisions are so insignificant that the choice doesn't even matter. Other times the decision "makes all the difference."

Frost's closing words demonstrate that he chose the road less traveled and that the result of that choice has made a difference. Lots of people do like to use those last few words to teach the concepts that sometimes choosing the hard working route in life earns you a great difference, a significant difference. Frost doesn't specify what the difference is, just that it exists.

The dilemma was simple: making a choice. The result of the dilemma is a much more complex unknown, what was that difference? I guess that's why he left it unknown, we should each seek to discover that for ourselves.

jseligmann eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I see the dilemma as it is presented in these lines:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

You can only live one life. You make some choices early on, and you walk your particular path: "Way lead on to way." This thing leads to that thing, and before you know it, you're seventy. By then, you look back on your life and know there just isn't time left to choose another path and to experience where the road not take would have led you. That's life.

epollock | Student

The speaker of the poem is looking back to a time where he had to make choice between two roads. If you look closely at the poem, in three instances the poems are almost identical. Then what is the dilemma? Since he is looking back, he is doing so with a comical or humorous tone, as if the two choices were not much different after all. This poem is sometimes misinterpreted to mean that one of the roads was never taken or that it is an unpopular choice. The roads are in fact very similar, and the poet realizes this, and laughs as if he thought about taking the one he had not taken.

suzant | Student

The dilemma the speaker of the poem faces is choosing between two paths.  He has come to a fork in the road, which symbolically means that He has come to a point of change in his life, where he was either going to go one way or the other.  The "fork in the road" is always a difficult point in life, but it is a necessary point to come to because it will determine where you most likely end up.  Sometimes the choice may not be the most popular choice, however, the point is that one does not have to wait for anybody else's approval in choosing; ultimately, it is up to you to make the final decision.

pranesh123 | Student

The poem presents a dilemma that every man faces faces in his life. The dilema is that every person comes to a fork in his life where he has to decide which way he should continue in his life. these forks are the different choises in life. The poet choses the road less travelled by because he feels that this choice will make all the difference in his future life. He decides to to try the other road some other time, knowing fully that he will not get a chance to go back to it. Later he wishes that he had taken the other road.  

penemra | Student

In the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, the speaker is in dilemma on choosing a right road to travel. He has two alternatives, but does not know where they would lead. He is in confusion and finally makes up his mind to choose a road which had been walked by some others. He thinks that if he had chosen another way, he would have felt the same. Anyhow, he keeps the other way to travel the next day, but he is uncertain whether he would be back again or not. He says that in the future when he will talk about this dilemma, he would start with a sigh. He himself does not know whether the sigh would be for expressing happiness that changed his life or it would be for dissatisfaction for choosing the wrong way. As he has not traveled the road yet, it is unknown to him that the road will be beneficial for him or not.