Critical Essay on The Road Not Taken: A Poem of Choices

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  8
Wordcount:  2086 Words
Date:  2023-01-14


The Road Not Taken is a poem written by Robert Frost. It was written in 1915 and published in 1916. It is a well-known poem in North America. In the collection Mountain Interval, 'The Road Not Taken was the first poem to be published. The poem features a speaker who is faced with a dilemma on the road to choose. The speaker after that settles for the less travelled path, a decision he or she considers to have made all the difference. Frost, however, creates a phase that is difficult to understand, whether it is true that the speaker makes a simple but a critical decision or rather or he gives meaning or value to a choice whose consequences are not known. This paper provides an extensive analysis of the poem and as well as explaining how it is typical of the works of the author.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

The persona while travelling in the woods, he comes at a point where two roads diverge. It is not possible to go on both streets. Dilemma sets in here as the two roads mean two diverse ways of life, none is similar to the other. The yellow colour of the woods is an indication that it falls. The leaves are yellow. Since it is not possible for the persona to travel both roads, he or she stands and looks to as far as his or her eyes could and the persona sees far away from where this road bends in the underground. As the persona is standing looking at the way, he or she is trying to choose between the streets. He or she wants to travel both paths; however hard it seems. He stares at one track, trying to see where it end but the view is blocked by plants in woods. The persona settles for one of the paths and follows it as he or she considers it perhaps better. This is because the other way seems travelled for it is less grassy. The persona goes through the road he chooses, but he comes to realise that both paths are equally moved. The neglected way seems more travelled than the one he or she decided but then he says that the two are similarly visited. It was challenging for him to know the real road since he was the first person who walked on that road in the morning. There was no evidence of one having walked that road, as there were no visible footsteps on the dry leaves that covered the way. The reason why he chose the second path is that he wishes to save the first one for another day. However, he is not so sure about it since as one travel, one way leads to another, and the chances of going back are very minimal. A time comes, and he is disappointed by the decision he made to follow the second path. This is because he fails to choose the right track and he finally accepts the fact that he has failed. The persona chose a road that made a difference in his life, but we are not told whether it was failure or success. He wanted the route that was not taken by anybody else. Generally, the poem tells of a story where the persona is on a journey, and he is faced by a dilemma, whereby the path he is travelling diverges, and therefore he is unable to know which way to follow. He finally settles on one of the tracks, that is the second one. The uncertainty of which path to take is what heightens the conflict of this poem.

The title of this poem 'The Road Not Taken' forms the base for its interpretation. It triggers how the reader perceives and understands it. It focuses on lost opportunities. It gives rise to questions like; how is the road that was not taken? What is so peculiar about it? Generally, the title summarises what the poem is all about. It somehow arouses the reader's curiosity to know more about the road not taken. The title of this poem is, therefore, relevant as it is way much related to the content of the poem. The poem expounds on what happened to the persona after taking the road that was less travelled. The poem is set in the woods, where two paths diverge (Frost.R, 2002). This is where the persona stands in a dilemma, confused about whether to take the first path or the second one. The setting is symbolic in a way, as the woods symbolise the continuity of life. The central theme of this poem is choice. Choice can refer to a decision that one makes concerning something. It is what one settles for after being provided with a variety of things to choose amongst. The poem revolves around the choice made by the persona and its consequences. It features the persona in a state of dilemma and the decision he or she ends up making. This theme runs through till the end of the poem, where the persona is featured regretting the choice he or she made. This choice eventually makes a huge difference in the life of the persona. At some point towards the end of the poem, the persona is seen feeling a bit relieved that he made a choice he felt that was best for him or her. Conflict is another major theme in this poem. The kind of conflict here is intrapersonal conflict. The persona is in a dilemma. He or she does not know which of the two paths should be taken. Conflict is the most exciting phase of any work of fiction. It makes the reader anticipate the final decision the character is going to make or the outcome. The personal conflicts with himself as he is confused about the path to take. He has no idea of the best way between the two, and this is what brings him or her in a dilemma. This issue disturbs him so much since it is a critical choice in life he is making. It is going to change her life for good or for worse.

The Road Not Taken tells a message about the choices people make in life. Here, the speaker is in a state of dilemma where he does not know which road to take and after that decides to take the less travelled way (Frost. R & Untermeyer.L, 1951). He thinks he has made the right decision not until when it dawns to him that he ended up a failure. He regrets his decision, but at long last he accepts it. Life is about making choices, and once in a while, people find it hard to make choices on important matters in their lives. Sometimes they do not know which way to go as in the case of the persona. Some are faced with issues of uncertainty when this occurs. People can make decisions that sometimes seem right, but they end up failures. As the speaker in the poem did, people ought to accept the fact that they have failed in life at one point or another, rather than spend their lives in regret of what happened in the past. Choices and decisions are of a significant impact on the presence of every person who makes them. A decision can make one fail or succeed in life. However, in the speaker's case, we are not told whether the difference caused by choice is a negative or a positive one. Sometimes decisions are hard to make, as the ones that seem right may be the wrong ones and vice versa. In the end, the speaker feels that he made a decision that made a difference in his or her life, which we suppose is a positive difference. This poem provides the reader with a platform to be able to figure out the concept of decision making. It allows the reader to think about the issue of standing by one's decision or following the multitude. Life is a journey, and therefore, one has to know which choices to make. That is whether to do what is hard but right or instead do what is simple.

This poem features regret as a primary outcome of making wrong decisions. Towards the end of the poem, the persona regrets the decision he or she made to follow the second path rather than the first path. He or she regrets an opportunity lost. The way he took meant his life, and therefore, he or she laments having not taken the first path. He says that he has preserved the first one for another time, but he or she does not know whether he will ever go back since one path leads to another. The persona regrets because he probably thinks that had he taken the first path, the outcome would be different. Nothing makes one regret than a lost opportunity when one knows that he had equal chances, to either miss or take the opportunity. This is what makes the persona lament since it is the decision he made that landed him or her in the kind of life that he or she is. The poem tries to reflect the situations in real life that call for people to make decisions which sometimes make them regret. This is where they have to choose between two significant things where every choice made has a consequence, either a positive or a negative one. Therefore on regret, the poem brings out a moral lesson that when deciding life, one ought to care. On the hand, some feature the poet as being happy for having not chosen the other road. The poem ends where the poet states that the decision he made or the path he decided to follow made differences in his life. However, we are not told whether the difference was a good one or a bad one. The poem The Road Not Taken has a surface meaning and as well as a hidden meaning. The possible surface interpretation of the poem is standing for what one feels is right rather than doing what others are doing.

On the other hand, what the two roads stand for is a bit symbolic, and therefore this makes it ambiguous to know what the latter stands for or the meaning it implies (Botool.S et al., 2014)

The poem The Road Not Taken is typical of other works of art by Robert Frost. Nature is a common ingredient in almost all his poems. He uses the environment to express the meaning or put across the message. As it is in this poem, nature is used symbolically or metaphorically (Kates, R.W, 1987). This is evident in this poem. The two paths are symbolic in a way. It represents something very significant in the life of a person. In almost all his poem, Frost always starts with a statement of something in nature. For instance, this poem is set in the woods where there are small green plants. Again, in almost all his poems, he addresses a mental struggle in humans. This is the same thing discussed in this poem. It features a person who is torn between two paths. The person is confused about which way to take since every track will eventually mean a change in his life. In explanation of this mental struggle, he uses the natural world landscape. This is the same case here. The poem is set in the woods, and the two roads are what puts him in a dilemma.


'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost is a relevant title for the poem as it significantly relates to the message of the poem. It addresses choices that people make in life, the difficulties they encounter when making decisions and the consequences of every decision made. This poem is typical of the poet's work. The structure, the content, how he brings about the message, the use of nature and the natural landscape are a common feature in almost all his poems.


Batool, S., Khan, A. B., Iqbal, A., Ali, K., & Rafiq, R. M. H. (2014). Stylistic Analysis of Robert Frost's Poem: "The Road Not Taken". Journal of ELT and Applied Linguistics (JELTAL), 2(4), 52-64.

Frost, R., (2002). The road not taken: A selection of Robert Frost's poems. Macmillan.

Frost, R., & Untermeyer, L., (1951). The road not taken (p. 18). Holt.

Kates, R. W., (1987). The human environment: The road not taken, the way still beckons. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 77(4), 525-534.

Cite this page

Critical Essay on The Road Not Taken: A Poem of Choices. (2023, Jan 14). Retrieved from

Free essays can be submitted by anyone,

so we do not vouch for their quality

Want a quality guarantee?
Order from one of our vetted writers instead

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the ProEssays website, please click below to request its removal:

didn't find image

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience and 25% off!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism