What does the road symbolize in the poem "The Road Not Taken"?

In "The Road Not Taken," the road symbolizes life and the choices that we make. When the road splits into two, the poet is required to make a decision with little knowledge of what lay ahead.

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Simply put, this road symbolizes life and the choices we make every day which change and shape our future in ways we have no understanding of.

The poet has come to a point where the road on which he is travelling splits into two, and he is trying to decide which one to take. He seems to stand for a long time deliberating over which road to take and thinking about two things: firstly, he has no idea where either of the roads will take him, and secondly, since he doubts "that [he] should ever come back," he will not have a chance to take the other road at a later stage.

Having stared down one road for quite some time, the poet then "took the other, as just as fair." It seems that both pathways look pretty similar, as Frost says that "the passing there had worn them really about the same." This means that it wasn't a case of there being one clear, easy path and another strewn with branches and foliage that would have been difficult to traverse.

The last two lines of this great poem are probably it's most famous. Despite the fact that Frost seems to contradict his earlier comment about the paths looking much the same, he uses these last lines to bring a moral or philosophical lesson into the poem. Taking "the road less traveled" is implied to have had a positive impact on the poet's life, as it has "made all the difference."

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"The Road Not Taken" represents a choice one must make in their life, perhaps a choice that strikes them as quite significant, as each road will lead to somewhere different. How does one choose when it is impossible to see where each road leads? The speaker is "sorry [he] could not travel both / And be one traveler," and so he spends some time looking at and pondering his options. He notes that the second is "just as fair" as the first, but they do look a bit different. "Though [...] the passing there / Had worn them really about the same." In other words, the roads have been traveled by other passers-by about the same number of times; they are equally worn. So, he picks the "grassy," second road, hoping that he might someday have a chance to see where the other goes, but "doubt[ing] if" he will ever make it back to this same exact spot. Similarly, once we make a choice, that choice leads to other choices that we must make, and so on and so forth, and we can never really go back to who and where we were when we made that initial decision.

In the end, the speaker says that he will tell people in the future that he "took the [road] less traveled" and that this choice "has made all the difference" in his life. However, he has already told us that there is no road less traveled; they are "worn [...] about the same." Why would he lie? Perhaps he does so to make himself look or feel good about making a unique choice. Perhaps he does so to allow his listeners to believe that making a unique or brave choice is possible? We can only speculate.

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The road in Frost's "The Road Not Taken" symbolizes the path of life. At so many different points in our lives, we must make choices. The choices may seem to be small ones, to go down one street as opposed to another or to wear a yellow shirt as opposed to a blue one. But the choices can be large ones, which are more the kinds the poem is intended to make us contemplate. We decide to live in one city or another, we decide to marry one person or another, or we decide to become architects or poets.

All of us would like to perhaps sample these different paths in life, but until we have figured out a way to live alternative lives in alternative universes, we understand that making one choice precludes another nearly all of the time. The narrator says,

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back (lines 13-15).
One choice in path leads to another set of choices, and seldom are we able to wend our way back to a previous path-divergence. Even if we do so, we are changed so much by our life experiences that we cannot have a perfect "do-over."
There is some regret and resignation about this, as the narrator says,
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence (lines 16-17)
But the fact is, we do have to make these choices on our path through life, and the narrator understands that even though he may have regrets, he must make his choices.
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