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Difficult Choices in Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken


In Robert Frost’s ” The Road Not Taken”, Frost talks about being sorry he could not travel down both roads. In people’s lives there are times when we feel the same way. When faced with choices about what path to take in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to all choices. All of the choices could have the potential for surprises, joys, and sorrows. Nonetheless, we must choose only one. Once chosen, we often cannot go back and see what it would have been like to choose the other. Only in movies like the recent “The Family Man”, are we able to see what might have been when someone else makes a different choice. But, would we be better off if we could see what might have been? This of course cannot happen in reality, but most of us wish it could at some point in our lives. Again, would we be better off this way?

I would say no. Making choices is a hard process, but necessary to progress forward in life. There are choices we must make in an instant, and then there are the choices that keep us up at night. Both kinds of choices are vital in life, and can have eternal consequences. If we were allowed to go back and see what would have happened if we made a different choice, we would either be overjoyed about the choices we have made or be filled with sorrow about the choices we have made. More than likely, we would have a mixture of emotions. But in any case, the next choice we would be faced with in life would not be made any easier. If anything, it would be made harder. If we are happy about the choices we have made in the past, it would make us worry about what making bad choices would be like, and if we were unhappy, we would worry about continuing on our same streak of bad choices.

Because of our desire to go back and see what might have been, combined with the knowledge that we cannot, we are in Frost’;s position once again. He looks down both as far as he can, and makes his decision from that. When we have the opportunity to take our time about choices, we weigh the long term consequences, and see which is better. Like Frost, however, we can only see a little way down the road. There will be surprises, one can be sure of that, but these surprises are what make life interesting.

The narrator tells this poem with a sigh. This sigh can be one of many sighs – a sigh of relief, a sigh of frustration, a sigh of exhaustion, or a sigh of delight. Frost leaves the interpretation of the sigh up to the reader. As I look back at the choices made in my own life, any one of these sighs could be used at different times. This sighing is “ages and ages hence.” It takes a while before you can look back at choices made and see what truly has become because of the choices. It is not something you can do instantly and see what the results are.

Along with the sigh leaving the reader to make their own conclusion, the last line of the poem leaves interpretation up to the reader as well. “And that has made all the difference.” Has this made a difference for the better or for the worse? Frost probably intentionally left these holes in the poem so that the reader would be able to see the poem in comparison to their own life, and not in Frost’s light of the poem. Poems that let the reader interpret what they want makes for a more interesting poem, because the poem can relate to the reader better.

The road Frost took “was grassy and wanted wear”. This description of the road only adds to the statement that it was the one “less traveled by”. Taking this path in life is much harder most of the time. For people to step away from what is normal in their society and to go the way they think is right is challenging, yet often rewarding. It is what makes the world a fascinating place to live. The founders of America had to make the decision to break away from what they had always known – being oppressed by another country – and we are all enjoying the results of that decision. That process did not come without fighting, struggle, and heartache, but the end result of a country where every person can live in freedom was worth the chance of being shamed in front of the whole world.

As we all travel throughout our daily lives, we are faced with pressing choices that need to be made. These decisions not only affect our own lives, but other lives as well. A mother and wife who is being abused has the choice to stay in the abusive relationship or to get out to safety. In either choice, her children will be deeply affected. If she stays, her kids are in a situation that could easily lead to them being abused. Also, if she stays, her kids will be watching their parent’s relationship, and will grow up with a warped view of how a family should run. But, if the woman chooses to get out of the house, she will be able to live a life free of her husband’s control and her children will be able to see how a brave person acts when faced with difficulties. As you can see, both options in the choice have consequences on not only the woman, but her children as well.

Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is a poem in which the reader can get a wide variety of interpretations. These are only a few of the interpretations that the reader can derive from the poem.