Do you think the speaker in ''The Road Not Taken'' made a wise choice?

Expert Answers
chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In “The Road Not Taken,” the narrator remembers a time when he was faced with a decision. It may have been the choice between two physical roads that led in two different directions. Or, if the road image is seen here as a metaphor, it may have been the choice between two major life decisions – like whether or not to go to college, whether or not to get married, whether or not to move to another city or state to get a better job, etc. We have to make these decisions without knowing if they will turn out to be the “right” ones for us in the long run. Sometimes we look back with regret and wonder if our lives would have been better if we had made other choices and gone the other way. Only we can judge this outcome for ourselves.

The last stanza of the poem holds the key to your answer:

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.

Now, his choice that day “made all the difference” in his life. But he anticipates that in the future, he’ll be telling this story “with a sigh.” Does this mean he already regrets the decision? Or will he sigh to his audience for another reason? He could sigh in frustration that he has to explain himself to others. What do you think? I have always read this poem thinking that the narrator was pleased with his decision not to follow the road that everyone else did.

Then again, the title of the poem is “The Road Not Taken.” Does it refer to the road that everyone else avoided? Or to that popular road that the narrator did not take in the end? Is the narrator now wistfully considering what would have happened if he had made the other choice? I tend to champion people who do things differently, so I think the narrator made the wise choice in taking the road less traveled. But I think you could argue this case either way.