person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

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What attitude is revealed by the speaker choosing the less traveled road in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken"?

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The attitude of the speaker that is revealed by his claim to have taken the road less traveled is one of peace, optimism, self-importance, or even self-mockery. The speaker reveals in earlier stanzas that the two roads are "about the same," yet he recognizes that as he looks back on this choice in the future, he will wish to believe and tell others that his decision "made all the difference."

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In "The Road Not Taken," the speaker comes to a fork in his journey and can only continue on one of the paths.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both...

He must choose one over the other, and he ultimately expresses an attitude of wistfulness and ambivalence. He is “sorry” that he has to make a decision between the two paths, but he does not seem to deeply regret his decision. Some reader believe that the speaker laments his choice, but the poem actually reveals a more peaceful and ambiguous attitude.

First, the speaker admits that in actuality, both roads are similar. He choses one because it has “perhaps the better claim.” Later, however, he recognizes that both paths are worn “really about the same.”

Second, he admits to saving (“kept”) the first path for a return on a future date, all while suspecting he will never be able to return. Nonetheless, he does not mourn the fact that he probably will not be able to “come back” and try the first path. Instead of being upset, he seems to be saying the equivalent of “oh well.”

In the last stanza, the speaker concludes his physical and metaphoric journey by saying,

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.

Third, he predicts that he will “tell” or soberly inform others about this day with a mere “sigh.” “Tell” is a neutral word, not one fraught with deep emotion. A “sigh” connotes weariness and acceptance with a twinge of melancholy. Describing his attitude as one of regret is a bit strong; descriptors like wistful, contemplative, and nostalgic are more accurate. The speaker may wonder if he took the correct path, or he may even claim that he took the one less traveled; but in reality, he is not even sure if the other one would have been better or even much different.

Finally, the closing line reveals an often misunderstood aspect of the speaker’s attitude. He states that picking the lesser traveled road “has made all the difference,” but has it really? If both paths were the same, did this choice really make “all the difference”?

The speaker reveals that in the future, after he has made this decision, he will tell others that his choice made all the difference, although the fact that the paths were “about the same” makes this seem suspect. The attitude he will express as he tells this tale in the future is one of peace with his decision, but also one of optimism, even self-importance and grandiosity: he knows he will want to believe and tell others that his choice was the noble one and that it made all the difference, when in reality, the two paths are, in his own words at the time of choosing, “about the same.”

The speaker’s attitude here as he closes the poem and thinks toward the future might even be described as self-mocking: he realizes that in the future, he will wish to believe and explain that his decision made all the difference, but he knows this is false and pokes fun at the impulse to glorify his choice.

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The speaker of "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost clearly has some regrets, or at least some wistfulness, about his decision to take the "road less traveled by."

Our first evidence of that is the title. Notice that he is not celebrating the path he chose but rather regretting, or wondering about, the road that was not taken. 

The second piece of evidence is that both roads were just about the same. This poem is often celebrated as a choice to take a path which few others have traveled as some kind of individualistic and bold move; in fact, the speaker tells us both roads were "just as fair" and says

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.

He could have chosen either path and been content with it, but he had to choose one.

The third evidence of the speaker's wistfulness or regret is that he decides to keep "the first for another day!" Unfortunately, though, he knows it is unlikely that he will ever get back there, knowing how life moves on and things get in the way of our best intentions. Often taking one path in life (making one decision) necessarily eliminates other choices forever. His regret is seen most in the final stanza:

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. 

He will sigh, presumably with some regret, about this decision many, many years from now. He seems to understand that some choices in life are irrevocable, and this was one of them. 

He is still torn at the end of the poem, when he kind of divides himself by putting a dash between "I." He talks about "all the difference" his choice has made, and often that is celebrated as a triumph. In fact, however, there is no implication of either positive or negative effects from that choice; it is a neutral comment. That decision "has made all the difference," has simply determined the course of his life, whatever that is.

The thing is, neither path was a bad choice. Both were "fair" and equal in their attributes; however, he had to choose one, and that is the course his life took. It is an understandable wistfulness, as we have all had to make a similar choice and then wondered what our lives might have been like if we had made the other choice. Generally there is some regret or wistfulness, even if we are perfectly content with where we are now. 

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Does the speaker seem happy with his choice in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

The speaker's statement that he will talk about his choice "with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence" seems to indicate that he is dissatisfied with his choice of paths.

The poet Robert Frost's Pulitzer Prize‐winning biographer, Lawrance Thompson, quotes Frost as not approving of romantic "sighing over what may have been." By Frost's own admission, the poem was written as a playful mockery of Edward Thomas's seriousness in having such anxiety about which trail to take for a simple walk. Thomas, a friend and fellow poet of Frost's, often worried that whichever trail they did not choose might have had more flora and fauna that he and Frost could have enjoyed.

On the other hand, the final stanza seems to suggest something greater than a mere walk in the woods:

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 speaker appears to harbor deep regret about some type of lost opportunity. He is certain that he will retell his story "ages and ages hence," for it is more often remorse than anything else that motivates a person to go back over things in his life. As Robert Marquand writes, there is "a persistent undercurrent of spiritual questioning in Frost":

The poems, in a gentle way, are about the most serious issues of life and death; the poet has an interest in things divine. He is too much a New Englander, a Yankee, and a human to announce this flatly. Not announcing it, in fact, is where his art lies.

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Does the speaker seem happy with his choice in "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

This famous poem by Robert Frost explores both an actual and symbolic pair of paths in the woods. The "[t]wo roads [that] diverged in a yellow wood" offer two paths, and one path is slightly less traveled than the other. The speaker is "sorry" he or she cannot "travel both," but must make a choice. It does indeed seem to be true that the speaker in the poem is satisfied with the choice he/she has made, to take one path and not another. The speaker takes the road "less traveled by" and says "that has made all the difference." Here we see a shift in tense as well, from past tense to future: "I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence." The speaker knows that he/she is making the wiser choice, one that will resonate in memory at a future time. The fact that it will make "all the difference" suggests a realization that taking a road not used as often is a more daring and interesting choice. If one reads this poem as a metaphorical summation of one's chosen path in life, the speaker is offering the opinion that choosing to do things which deviate from the more expected or acceptable social expectations might indeed lead to a more satisfying life.

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How does the speaker feel about the choice he made in the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

This poem, unambiguous on its surface, is actually a complex statement about human choices.  First, the two roads are not as different as one would think: stanza two points at their similarities. It is oversimple to assume that one is “less traveled by,” despite line 15, since “the passing there /Had worn them about the same.” Both are laden with fresh leaves not yet “trodden black.”  The main difference is that “the road not taken” had an obscured view after the first foreseeable section–this is the unknown element in his choice.  The narrator is still on the "grassy" path as he reflects, because he will “sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence.”  He already realizes that he will never get back to that other path, so it will always be a source of mystery to him.  So the attitude toward his choice is that he will always wonder what was beyond that bend in the undergrowth.  While it is a temptation to interpret the poem as autobiographical allegory, a more sophisticated interpretation might be that Frost is articulating the doubts we all have about “what if?” and the unpleasant truth that “way leads unto way.”  We are the sum of our choices. Cf. You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe. 

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How does the speaker feel about the choice he made in the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

The narrator debates for some time before making his choice. The narrator states that he "looked down one as far as I could" as he tried to make his choice. He sees that both roads were freshly covered with leaves and finds both of them "fair" in appearance. In the end, the basis of his choice of which road to take is that the road he takes "wanted wear."

In looking back on his choice, the narrator is somewhat sad, resigned to the facts of life that he assumes mean he won't get an opportunity in the future to travel the road he did not choose. "I shall be telling this with a sigh" seems to indicate some degree of regret. However, he doesn't indicate any remorse about the route he did follow; indeed, he acknowledges the impact of the decision upon his life when he says, "I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."

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How does the speaker feel about the choice he made in the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

Frost made it clear that the speaker in this poem was himself and that he was talking about career choices he had made at one time in his life. We know that he decided to live a life of austerity and simplicity in order to be able to devote his time to creative writing. We know this because that was the kind of life he actually led and the kind that is described in many of his poems. His choice was similar to that of another great New England writer, Henry David Thoreau, who may have been an inspiration to Frost.

The road not taken must have been a more practical and potentially more lucrative career. We can imagine that road leading to a big city full of opportunities for a man with Frost's brains and talents.

Fortunately, we know for sure that he felt satisfied with the road he had taken because he said so in a letter he wrote to a young girl who asked him that specific question. The letter reads, in part, as follows:

No wonder you were a little puzzled over the end of my Road Not Taken. It was my rather private jest at the expense of those who might think I would yet live to be sorry for the way I had taken in life....I'm not really a very regretful person....

Finger, L. L.: "Frost's 'The Road Not Taken': a 1925 Letter come to Light", American Literature v.50.

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What is the momentous decision taken by the speaker in the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

The speaker in Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken reflects upon life's difficult decisions. The speaker is not necessarily the poet himself and it is thought to relate to Frost's friend, Edward Thomas, himself a poet.  

The speaker must make a decision which is life-changing and which he may regret the moment he has made it. He therefore does not make his decision lightly or quickly and " long I stood" as he deliberates.

The decision is put off for as long as possible as the speaker explores the other option "To where it bent in the undergrowth" before finally deciding, whereupon he "took the other." He is relatively confident that his choice is "perhaps the better claim" but his self-assurance fades rapidly as he realises that, having chosen the presupposed lesser travelled "other"; in fact, "the passing there Had worn them really about the same" and he again doubts himself.

There is an attempt to console himself as the speaker decides that he can still explore the alternative and he has "kept the first for another day!" Again his insecurity returns and he  "doubted if I should ever come back."

This all reveals that the speaker is making what he feels is a "momentous" decision but his vague descriptions lead the reader to question whether the speaker doesn't perhaps stress over all decisions as if they are life changing.

At first the speaker must choose between two different paths along the road where "Two roads diverged in a wood." Having reached a fork where he can only take one direction or the other, he has great difficulty selecting. However, the decision made, he will recall in the future "with a sigh" that  he took" the one less traveled" which .....has made all the difference. "

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What decision does the narrator have to make in the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

On the surface, the decision that the narrator has to make in "The Road Not Taken" is pretty simple: Which of these two roads should I take? Is either of them better than the other? What makes them different? The narrator seems to have a bit of regret that he cannot, indeed, take both paths, wishing to keep "the first for another day." But he knows full well that things will probably keep him from ever coming back to take the path if he can't do it right now:

Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back.
Of course the simplicity of the decision belies its true meaning. We are faced with seemingly simple decisions every day, often between paths with seemingly equal desirability or outcome:
...the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same.
In other words, one of these roads looks like it has been taken more than the other, but really they probably each get about as much use.    Though we cannot know from the poem itself if there is some other, deeper decision being made by the narrator (Should I take the teaching job? Should I buy a house or continue renting? Should I have coffee or tea with my scone?), we can relate to that decision through the metaphor of the two paths.   The future is unknowable, and can only be found out by making a decision and pushing forward. It is the making of that decision that is important. It is the pushing forward through life and continuing to take path after path that, in the end, will make "all the difference."
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Is the speaker pleased with his choice in "The Road Not Taken"?

The reason Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken” has been the subject of study and critical analysis since its publication in 1920 is simple: it has been traditionally misunderstood by many readers and critics for a hundred years. Ample evidence exists to show that Frost wrote this poem as a mild spoof of his friend Edward Thomas, with whom he often walked through the woods in England. The poem is not about the speaker being pleased with his choice; it is instead about what did not happen.

Thomas was one of many people who have regrets about the things they believe they have missed in life. Such people fail to enjoy the roads they do take, because they focus their entire lives on what they might have done instead. Frost’s poem tells the story of what many people, particularly his friend, do not do in life.

Frost did not envision the speaker of this poem to be himself, but rather his friend Thomas. Ironically, the poem that the poet envisioned to be a lighthearted jab at his friend has now been deeply and seriously interpreted for a century.

While there are a myriad of interpretations of “The Road Not Taken,” the poem does contain some undeniable references that demonstrate the speaker’s displeasure with his choice. In the first stanza of this short work, the speaker says:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth ...

The meaning is clear. Since the traveler expresses sorrow over his inability to walk both paths, he is not pleased.

In stanza 2, the speaker once again expresses doubt in his choice of roads. He acknowledges that his initial observation confirmed that both choices were relatively the same from his vantage point, but the one he ultimately took had “perhaps the better claim.”

Stanza 3 is particularly revealing. The speaker had convinced himself that he would eventually take the other road at a later date, but realized this would never be, because life does not work that way. People cannot go back to gain the experiences they pass up in life:

Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

Finally, the speaker reveals his disappointment with the selected path through the woods:

I shall be telling this with a sigh ...
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Frost intentionally leaves the last stanza ambiguous. The speaker sighs with disappointment, but it is never revealed whether “the difference” led to a good or bad result. The purpose is to show that human beings have free will and whatever path individuals choose is the right one and is meant to be enjoyed, not foolishly regretted while never knowing what the alternative would have provided.

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