What do the two roads symbolize?What do the two roads symbolize?

Expert Answers
vangoghfan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Part of the effectiveness of this poem is that it leaves so much to the imagination. No biographical information is provided in the poem itself, and so it is not surprising that the poem has often been interpreted as a poem about making choices in life. The imagery of the poem is archetypal: almost everyone is familiar with what it is like to walk through woods; almost everyone is familiar with what it is like to confront two diverging paths; almost everyone is certainly familiar with what it is like to confront two options in life, one leading in one direction and the other leading in another.  Frost was a talented poet; he could easily have suggested a very clear, very precise, very unambiguous meaning to the work if he had wanted to. (Even a biographical footnote would have done the trick.)  Instead, he wrote a poem that seems deliberately thought-provoking and open to interpretation. Perhaps this is one reason that the poem is so widely read, remembered, and valued.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't agree that this poem is really about the importance of our life choices.  Instead, I would argue that it is about how we think our choices are important even when they're not.

Please note that there is not really any difference between the two roads.  The narrator, at the time of his decision, keeps talking about how they really are quite similar.  He will, however, look back at the decision and say that it made all the difference.  So I do agree about what the roads stand for in terms of choices.  But I don't think the overall message is about the importance of those choices.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If it may be said the the poetic persona represents Frost himself, then the roads may be his options and choice to be a poet. For the poetic speaker, the two roads symbolize two choices in life's path. For readers, the roads similarly symbolize two choices in life. Frost said that he preferred his poetry be called emblematic instead of symbolic: ""If my poetry has to have a name, I'd prefer to call it Emblemism," not "Symbolism," which is all too likely to clog up and kill a poem." (Burnshaw p 283).

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to Robert Frost himself, this poem is about a friend with whom he often walked.  Edward Thomas was incapable of deciding which path they should take; then, after they finally went down one, he worried that the other might have been more scenic and pleasurable to walk upon.  In this poem that has come to be interpreted as so profoundly symbolic, Frost may have simply been satirizing a friend who has trouble making even mundane choices.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with #2. It is clear that there is no direct symbolism in the poem that links the roads to specific major life choices. This is its beauty and genius, as we are free to think of any of our major life choices ourselves when we consider the two roads that the speaker chooses between. It could be anything: to marry or not to marry, a particular job over another profession etc.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What has made this piece so well known is how the two roads can come to symbolize any major choice a person may make in their lives.  It also leaves it up to the reader as to whether or not taking the road less traveled is the better choice, since "and that has made all the difference" doesn't suggest whether it was positive or negative difference.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I feel like the more responses that one gets which mirror others the more comfortable one becomes with looking at it in the same way. I agree that the poem focuses upon choice. I tend to agree with pohnpei the most though. The way which one thinks about choices is far more important than the choice itself.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem is definitely about choice.  People often interpret this poem as promoting individualism.  Choose differently than others.  I agree that it is open to interpretation.  I think we need to allow people to interpret the poem as they will.

crystaltu001 | Student

In Frost's The Road Not Taken, the two roads symbolizes your two choices. One choice is simple, it's the easy way out of your situation. You can't really call it a challenge. The other road is a choice full of hardships and challenges. This is the choice that most people do not take.

bhawanipur | Student

Speaking about his own journey in life and the decision taken by him, which had changed his life, universalize the poem with the last two lines. Now when I first read the poem, I too perceived the same view. Later on, I read it again and again and a new thought has to my mind. Robert Frost is also called one of the poets of nature. He beautifully depicts the Nature.

In the RNT, he might have studied the two roads, being a part of nature and he finds that one road is frequently trodden and there ae no grass in it and we can see foot steps of people traveled that day. Thereby they have caused harm to the beauty of nature and the other road is less frequented and therefore there is grass.

On the other hand when we are born we are perplexed. there are two ways- good and evil. In the twentieth century most people tread the later. But the poet observed the road upto it disappeared under the bushes. I think a poet needs to be a prophet also, having a range of vision more than the other. Frost was such a person and he undertook the responsibility to show us our face in the mirror that how much we have caused harm to nature, how we have deviated from nature and now in stead of aspiring for more material enjoyment we must stop abusing matter itself.