Summary and analysis of The Road not Taken

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  • Post last modified:July 6, 2017

The Road not Taken by Robert Frost: Summary and Analysis 

The Road not Taken is an inspirational poem by Robert Frost that tries to inspire us to rise above the petty and do things extraordinary. It inspires to do things that few people dare to do. What happens in general life is that every person keeps looking for convenient routes to success. However, the problem is that convenient routes lead to convenient destinations. If you are looking for things of value you will have to dig deeper and explore the unexplored. Through the example of two roads in the woods, the poet explains how we are used to making easy choices in life. If we do otherwise and dare to take difficult roads, we would be taken to prettier destinations. In the modern age especially, people do not love the toil but only want results. So, they choose to travel the more traveled routes where there are less chances of accidents. However, there is no bigger accident than having lost your urge to explore new things.

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;

Most of the appear in the poem is due to the plentiful use of imagery. A lone traveler standing in yellow woods trying to decide between two routes – one he is familiar with and the other that is not taken.  The poet takes us closer to the nature and its beauty to acquaint us with his point. One day he was standing in a wood where two roads lay before him and he looked down one till it finally bent and disappeared behind trees and bushes.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

Then rather than choosing the first one, he turned towards the second, the one which less feet had traveled and where the grass was still green waiting to be stepped upon. This road lay there as if waiting for the special traveler who had the guts to step down on it and be taken to his destination.

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

In the third stanza, the author explains both his fear and his determination to travel on a new route. That morning the road on which no step had trodden lay there welcoming him. He postponed his plan to take the first route and chose the second. However, there was slight doubt in his heart if this was the route to his destination and if it will ever bring him back home. Such doubts are there in everyone’s heart. While most of us succumb to the doubt and choose the convenient  and known track, the winners do not.

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.

Time will be his testimony and for ages to come people will recount his story that the lone traveler who chose the second route arrived at his destination, a winner. Had he chosen like the others, his fate too would have been ordinary. So, there is nothing great about doing ordinary things and all the pleasure lies in exploring the unexplored. So, the poem leaves a lesson for those who believe in making easy choices. Such choices seem to favor you at first but at the end yield no great result. All is just ordinary about them. If you want a different fate you must try the roads few have taken. This is also the story of Frost ad how he became a great poet. The poem also inspires to leave behind the herd mentality and travel alone when no one is there to support you on your mission. The two roads are symbols of the two types of choices we get to make in our lives – the easy ones and the difficult ones. Difficult roads are meant for tough people with ambition. the woods symbolize the complex world we live in. There are several roads leading to several destinations. Making a choice that leads to success is a difficult task because most people hate hurdles.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.