Why is Robert Frost's poem called "The Road Not Taken" instead of "The Road Less Traveled"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken," the speaker says,

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. 

In this final stanza of the poem, the contolling metaphor is not having gone one's individual way, but, rather, having departed from the allure of another way. That is, the speaker wonders how his life would have been different if he had gone down the road that he "kept...for another day."  Thus, the theme of Frost's poem is the rue of the speaker that he had not chosen another "path" in life, not that he "took the one less traveled."

This point of emphasis may be what draws many readers to Frost's poem.  For, so often people perceive the other road down which they could have gone in life as having more appeal later in their lives in light of their disappointments and "sighs" over their present states.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think this is a fairly interesting topic.  I think that the idea of the title being "The Road Not Taken" personalizes the choice the speaker had to face.  The speaker was confronted with a choice of roads to take and the choice that was made helped to define his sense of identity and place in the world (See the last line of the poem.)  With the title, "The Road Not Taken," there is a stong intimation of choice on the part of the speaker.  The speaker made a deliberate choice not to take a particular road, which becomes the thematic essence of the poem.  Within the title of "The Road Less Traveled," it lessens the aspect of choice in that the idea present is more about which a road that is not taken.  The element of choice is vitiated to a certain extent in take the road is "less traveled" as opposed to "not taken."  The slight difference between agent of action and passivity could be why the poem is titled the way it is.

utkdmrz | Student

On the last two lines of the poem, speaker says that he took the road less thraveled by, and that has made all the difference. The important point is, he took the less traveled road. So, he did not choose the more traveled one. The title is The Road Not Taken and it is the road the speaker did not traveled, did not choose. Therefore The Road Not Taken means the more traveled road. So, we can't change the title instead of the less traveled road because the speaker didn't tell us about the less traveled road, he tells us about the road not taken(the road he didn't choose).

Read the study guide:
The Road Not Taken

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