Robert Frost Questions and Answers

Robert Frost book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What does the road "less traveled" symbolize in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?    

Expert Answers info

Bridgett Sumner, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Hofstra University

calendarEducator since 2016

write1,719 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

"The road less traveled by" could symbolize a more unconventional path through life than the "roads" that others typically take. It could relate, for example, to the way one makes a living. Conventional vocations include business, law, medicine, education, engineering, and manual labor, while a more unconventional vocation could be that of an artist.

Unconventional ways of living could include choosing an itinerant lifestyle as opposed to settling down in a fixed location. Instead of marrying and raising a family, another choice could be opting for being single or childless. The speaker in Frost's poem had the courage to take an unconventional approach to some area of his life, and since he declares that it "has made all the difference," what is implied is that the choice turned out to be a good one for him.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Garrett Walker eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write399 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Law and Politics

In Robert Frost's immensely-popular--though often misinterpreted--poem, "The Road Not Taken," the road "less traveled by" symbolizes a couple of things. First, this phrase symbolizes the desire to make choices for oneself. The narrator openly admits earlier in the poem that the two paths he encounters are equally well-traveled, but he later refers to the one he took as "less traveled." This is because he wants to make it seem as though he made a deliberate choice to be different than those who had come before him. The choice was not significant, but he wants to believe (or others to believe) it was important.

Second, the road "less traveled" symbolizes the possibilities lost by making a decision. The narrator wishes he could travel on both paths, but he must make a choice. He chooses one--on impulse--but continues to think about the opportunities he missed by not choosing the other path.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial