What is the theme of "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

The main themes of the "The Road Not Taken" are the impacts of choices and the desire for to be unique. The speaker claims to have chosen the "road less traveled," but at the outset of the poem, he acknowledges that both paths are "worn about the same." This suggests that the speaker's choice wasn't as brave or unique as he wants others to believe, calling into question whether it is our actual choices or the way in which we think about them that truly affects our lives.

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"The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost is an often misinterpreted poem.  The content has nothing to do with taking an unpopular road or choosing the difficult, less-traveled path.  The roads, the speaker says, are pretty much the same.  There was virtually no difference.  He does not take...

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"The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost is an often misinterpreted poem.  The content has nothing to do with taking an unpopular road or choosing the difficult, less-traveled path.  The roads, the speaker says, are pretty much the same.  There was virtually no difference.  He does not take the less-traveled path.  He is not a trail blazer and this poem is not moralistic.  Again, the paths are virtually the same.

The speaker in the poem thinks about how he will one day use this decision to play the wise old man.  He will claim that the two paths were different, and that choosing the less-traveled path made all the difference.  He will rewrite the incident for the purpose of telling tales when he is old:  like one tells a story of how big the caught fish was, etc. 

The poem is light-hearted.  If anything it makes fun of those who would proclaim having taken the unpopular road and having been unconventional. 

 

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To me, Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" addresses the ways in which we assign significance to our choices. The poem is indeed at least in part about the choice between two possible routes that the speaker walking along the wooded trail could take. At least two sets of details in the poem drive home the notion, however, that these two paths really aren't that different:

... the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black

Both paths, in other words, look both equally worn and untrodden. The human speaker, however, seems compelled to assign all kinds of meaning to this moment of being faced with two possible paths while strolling one morning through the woods and to attribute that paritcular choice to the individual. The final stanza drives this pont home with the repeated use of "I" and perhaps some gentle mockery of the idea of assigning all kinds of meaning to a simple walk in the woods.

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I think the theme of The Road Not Taken is about how challenge draws us. We are attracted to the opportunity to overcome obstacles. The road that hadn't been taken "wanted wear". The process of our decision-making deals with weighing the obstacle and if we are able to pursue something. We weigh what we know of our abilities. Frost took the road after weighing the decision because it (the road) longed for him. People need to be needed. The call of the less traveled road demonstrated need to Frost as well as challenge. So the result of taking that road less traveled helped Frost meet both need and challenge and in his life that resulted in a difference that might mean fulfillment or satisfaction.

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The major theme in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken," is about making choices. The speaker in the poem in traveling and comes upon a cross roads or a fork-in-the-road. Here he or she much decide which way to continue traveling. One way looks as if it has been traveled many times before and is the safer, easier route to continue down. However, the other road does not like it has been used frequently and may be more problematic to travel on. He ends up selecting the path less traveled by, or the road that did not look as convenient, to continue his journey. He/she states that by selecting this path, it has "made all the difference." You could also interpret that as a theme. Not only is the theme about choice, but it about praising the choice of the nonconformist, someone who goes outside the box to think, a renegade or risk taker. Think of the saying, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." If this person selected the easy path, they would not have experienced any challenges, yet by choosing the path less traveled they are inviting obstacles and unforeseen adventure, which may make them stronger in character.

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"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost allows readers to contemplate the decisions they make. Some decisions are life-changing and others are more a matter of preference and do not change lives. However, for some, all decisions are difficult to make and there is always a possibility that, regardless of the choice made, the decision may turn out to be the wrong decision. Therefore, the main theme is about making choices.

In his poem, Frost is lamenting or complaining about this problem, not as it relates to himself but with regard to how others perceive (observe) it. The narrator would like to travel on both paths and is disappointed that he has to choose at all. He is conflicted or at odds with himself as he looks along one path and then chooses the other, observing that "it was grassy and wanted wear." However, he admits that there is probably little difference, them being "about the same." And so the theme is extended to include the effects of choices.

In this instance, the narrator worries more about the choice he does not make rather than making the most of the one he has chosen. Understanding that the theme is about choices also allows the reader to contemplate or consider expectations. The narrator can be happy about having taken "the one less traveled" and be confident that "that has made all the difference" or he can be troubled by his choice and the "difference" that that will make to his future in a potentially negative or undesirable way. Therefore the theme also includes elements relating to the consequences of risk-taking or avoiding risk. 

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Most people read “The Road Not Taken” as a call to liberal individualism and a celebration of personal autonomy. Critics claim the poem shares in the spirit of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance,” or Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”: works whose narrators find fulfillment and happiness in non-conformity. This read seems to be supported by the poem’s famous final verses: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.”

Frost himself warned against this simplistic interpretation, noting in his 1925 letter to Crystine Yates that:  “You have to be careful about that one; it’s a tricky poem – very tricky.”

Indeed, a close read reveals that the theme of the poem isn’t individualism and self-reliance. Rather the poem speaks to the ironic nature of all our decision-making: we must choose, yet we have no knowledge of the results our choices will bring. We make our decision with no foreknowledge of what fortune or misfortune they will bring.

We will only know the meaning of our decisions after we’ve already made them. The poem’s narrator admits as much: “I shall be telling this with a sigh, / somewhere ages and ages hence. / Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- / I took the one less traveled by, / and that has made all the difference.”  The narrator, speaking in the present, admits that he doesn’t know what difference it made because he hasn’t lived out the consequences of that choice. He only muses that in the future he will look back on this moment, determining its meaning and significance only after living out its results.

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In "The Road Not Taken," there is a theme that involves choices. The speaker comes to two roads and has to make a choice. As the title would reflect, the speaker is still thinking about the road he did not take. The road is a reference to the journey of life. The speaker is on a journey and when he comes to a fork in the road, he has to make a decision as to which road he will travel. Looking back, the speaker is wondering what the road he did not take may have held for him.   

This poem can be interpreted to be a reflection about a choice one has made in life. The speaker may even regret that he did not take the other road for he tells it with a sigh:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:

The speaker realizes how "way leads on to way" and that he will probably never return this way again. The speaker sighs and states that he is "sorry [he] could not travel both" roads. There is a sense of sadness at not being able to take both roads. But life is about choices. Sometimes the choices are difficult. The speaker realizes that he may one day regret the choice he has made. Truly, the poem is about the other road, the road not taken.

Ultimately, the speaker claims the road he did take has made all the difference. In this line, the reader can only hope that the difference made is for the better.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

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The theme of this poem centers around choices, and which ones bring us the fullest life as human beings.

In "The Road Not Taken," we see someone in the woods at the fork in the road...pondering which way would be the better one to travel.

The one path is one he has traveled before...so it would be safe, and easy to travel. The other path is unknown, and will be scary to travel because there will be more obstales in the way. The author chooses to take "the road less traveled", and he concludes that this has made "all the difference."

We assume then, that the moral or theme of the poem is that choosing individuality...stepping out of the comfort zone and being a nonconformist...following ones own heart and dreams...is what makes life full and rich.

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I'm pretty sure I answered a question like this before, but I can't find it, so here goes.

This poem has often been read as story of a "decision point" in a person's life.  The poem states that the person "took the road less traveled by," but the facts of the poem belie that statement:

 

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; 5Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

If they are worn about the same, then, the point isn't that one was "less travelled," but rather that, because the traveller is just one person, he cannot take both, so s/he must make a choice.  That choice will determine/influence everything s/he does for the rest of their lives.  We can tell ourselves that we will come back some day to try the other path,

Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back

but it's not likely to happen.

So all our choices are important.  We may look back with a sigh some day, not of sadness, but simple of fact.  We have choices; we make choices; and our life flows from these.

 

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