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

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

What is remarkable about Robert Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken" is that the setting he describes in the first three stanzas is not a real place at all but a fairly simple and obvious metaphor. The poet is thinking about a time in his life when he had to make an extremely serious choice about what direction he would take in his life. This may very likely have been a career choice. But he was not literally standing at a crossroads looking down two diverging roads--although he might have been taking a long walk in the nature he loved so well while he was trying to decide on which of two irrevocable life-choices he would make.

The poem owes its strong emotional effect to the fact that Frost invents a very simple and familiar metaphor and then draws the reader inside that metaphor--so that the reader feels he is actually standing in some yellow woods on a cold day in late autumn at a lonely place where two dirt roads diverge in opposite directions. The reader is inside Frost's metaphor. 

It is only in the last stanza that the illusion is dispelled, and the reader realizes it was only a metaphor after all.

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 lines that reads "Somewhere ages and ages hence" is a puzzler. It almost sounds as if the speaker thinks he is immortal and will be able to tell about the incident for hundreds and hundreds of years. Another rather uncanny possible interpretation is that the speaker knows he is immortal because he is already dead! The reader has been listening to the words of a dead man.

A poem does not necessarily have to have a moral (like Rudyard Kipling's "If"). A poem has to produce an emotional effect. And Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" certainly does that.

noahvox2 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken", written in 1920, deals with the choices that people have to make in life. Unfortunately, in some situations, we are faced with choices that are mutually excluding: choosing one will probably exclude the possibility of choosing the other.

In the poem, Frost tells us that both paths appear to be about the same. We hear that both were "worn...really about the same" and that both paths "equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black." Frost's use of the words "the same" and "equally" suggests that these two paths appear to be the same. Ultimately, though, the narrator claims that he took "the one less traveled by" and this choice "has made all the difference."

So, too, in life we are frequently faced with choosing between two options and it is difficult to tell what the results will be when either option appears to be able to yield the same result. Hopefully, like Frost's narrator, we will choose the option that makes "all the difference."

meeenakshi | Student

according to the poet the two roads that diverged refers to choices that lay before us at some points in our life when we have to make a crucial decision about our future ,ther is no preview and the risk has to be taken.First we have the option of choosing what the majority does and which may be safe,or,we can choose what few have done which only the bold dare to do something different and in this case be prepared to face the consequences good or bad.thus the moral is that one has to make decisions i n life when there are options vastly different and mutually exclusive and which cannot be reversed,which make the difference to our future

lara-2009 | Student

Frost's "The Road Not Taken" resembles everyone's real life, we do have options and choices, though when we are to choose between two, we often choose the one that most people do, since the spirit of adventure could be surrounded by fear and suspense, but that makes the difference, when we choose a unique way, try a new path and be the pioneers. Frost is emphasising the idea of individuality rather than copying one another.

sicelo | Student

the road not taken by robert frost

the moral of the poem is about the choices we make in life, the persona find himself in a situation where two differant roads diverge , the two roads look the same , and he had to take only one road because he cant travel both at the same time , so he took the less travelled while he knew that the roads were much more the same , so he made his choice and took only one road, and he never regret the choice he made

user6171802 | Student

In the road not taken, Frost describes being faced with a decision that would alter the course of his life. He sees that both of the paths have their merits, but would ultimately decide to be an individual, rather to conform. Throughout the poem, he has doubts whether it would've been the best decision, but by the end of the poem, he has no regrets and stands by his decision to be an individual

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ksraa | Student

The moral of the poem 'The Road not Taken' is that no matter what result may come out of the decisions that we make in life, the important thing is the confidence of decision making that it builds in us. We have experience of covering an entire journey full of obstacles and although we might feel at times as though we have not gained anything at all from the decision that we make, we need to realize the fact that we are searching for the materialistic results without realizing that that confidence will help us a lot in the future. Next time when we are faced with the dilemma of the decision making, this experience and confidence that is now present in us will help us make better decision. But to gain this confidence, we need to first take initiative.

anuragjadaun123 | Student

The moral  the poem 'The Road Not Taken' is that in everybody's life a time comes when an individual has two option. Individual has to choose any one course. And the course chosen by the individual  affects his entire life. Generally there are two course: One is that which is generally followed by the people, and the other one is rarely followed.