Why is "The Road Not Taken" one of the most misunderstood writings by Robert Frost?

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem is often misunderstood because of its last two lines.  The last two lines of the poem read

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference

When they read this, people think the poem is about nonconformity.  They think the narrator is saying that he has chosen to make the choice that people don't usually make and that has made all the difference in his life.

But if you look at the rest of the poem, that's not what he's saying.  He keeps talking in the poem about how the two roads really aren't any different from each other.

Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

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

Then, just before the last lines, he says that those lines are what he will tell himself years from now.

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

The poem is really about how hard it is to make a decision, but because of those last two lines, people often say it's about being your own person and going your own way.