Brought to a standstill at the presence of a crossroad, the speaker of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is left to contemplate which path to travel. After careful inspection of both routes, the speaker comes to the conclusion that neither path presents a more appealing endeavor ahead. Of the two means of travel, the speaker asserts that “the passing there/Had worn them really about the same” (lines 9-10) and “both that morning equally lay/ In leaves no step had trodden black” (lines11-12). Lacking an explicit solution to the dilemma, the speaker is left to contemplate any future consequences based on an impending decision of taking one road over the other. As a result, the speaker comes to terms that his final destination is bound solely by chance and choice, but he anticipates an imminent feeling of regret for not traveling the other route’s course.
Infused with the anticipation of remorse, Frost’s work portrays the universal query supposing a different possible outcome if another route was taken of equal uncertainty. Even the title suggests this impression of doubt, where the road not taken is mentioned with greater precedent than the actual course of travel. Lacking the chance to “travel both/ And be one traveler” (lines 2-3), one path must function as the chosen way and the other the other way, both with no indication of which is the better to travel. Therefore, once the chosen way is traveled, the other way holds a haunting reminder of what may have been lost strictly by chance. After a foreseeable self-evaluation of the speaker’s life, trying to determine if he took advantage of all available opportunities is perceived as a daunting challenge for there will always be an ambiguity lingering around the other path. However, the speaker apprehensively comes to terms with reality, eventually determining the futility of postulating on matters of the imagination.
Thus, “with a sigh” (line 16), the speaker proclaims that he took advantage of the opportunities to the best of his ability as they were presented to him, despite those of chance. In effect, taking the chosen path has “made all the difference” (line 20). That particular decision determined the speaker’s overall course in life to the effect that the other route could have directed the speaker to walk in the complete opposite direction of his final destination.
The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost .