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Choices, Uncertainty, and the Enigma of Decisions Made:
An Analysis of “The Road Not Taken”
Aracely Rivera Garcia
Liberty University

Choices, Uncertainty and the Enigma of Decisions Made:
An Analysis of “The Road Not Taken”
Many people read the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost and interpret it as a reflection of choices the author made. To do so, however, would imply that Frost revealed the intended meaning of this poem via the closing line of this classic literary piece, and while that is indeed possible, with careful exploration the reader can find so many more truths embedded in the verses of “The Road Less Travelled.” Is it perhaps a statement about the ambiguity of the decision making process? Or is it maybe a declaration of triumph over difficult choices made? The following essay will attempt to answer these questions while also engaging readers in reflection on what the poem might have in store for them.
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is probably one of the most studied pieces in American literature, and thanks to that, we’re able to discern today much of what the author intended to communicate through the words of this piece. What We Know
“The Road Not Taken” is a narrative and autobiographical poem consisting of four stanzas of iambic tetrameter (though it is hypermetric by one beat—there are nine syllables per line instead of the strict eight required for tetrameter) and is one of Frost’s most popular works” (Sternbenz, 2014). The choices in rhyme and syllables have led some to compare the tone of this poem to the natural foot stepping sounds that one would hear when walking down a trail.
The author was inspired by his friend, writer Edward Thomas, and their frequent walks, as well as by Thomas’ indecisiveness, when he wrote “The Road Not Taken.” According to an article by The Examiner, as the two writers exchanged letters discussing the poem, Frost admitted that he had used a tone of mockery. He added, “The sigh was a mock sigh, hypocritical for the fun of the thing” (Frost).
Now that we have discussed these important facts, let’s review key lines within Frost’s poem.
The Analysis
Lines 1 through 3 are a synopsis that establishes a few important facts: The author is going down a path and needs to make a decision and choose a direction to take. In these beginning lines, the author expresses regret that he can’t take both roads. In the next few lines, 4 and 5, he expresses just how undecided he is. He then uses a metaphor to perhaps describe this as a place in life and not necessarily an actual road: “And looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.” In other words, to be unable to tell the future would probably be the same as being unable to see past a certain place on the road.
From this point on, the author continues to use other metaphors. At one point, Frost describes one path as “just as fair” as the other. We know that the word fair means pale in color or pleasing in appearance, but it can also mean just and free from bias, and because only the latter applies to a road, one can conclude that this was another metaphor used by the author to convey that he was referring to life’s choices. Frost continues to show indecision in the consequent lines referring to one path being better than the other, then saying that he may return to the one he didn’t choose at one point, only to reveal later that he might not return at all.
It’s interesting that even after revealing the choice he made,…