The speaker of “The Road Not Taken” is someone who recounts an experience of facing a decision between two options that appear virtually identical, and yet which likely lead to very different places. Though the decision the speaker must make relates to the two roads that diverge in the woods, this forking path symbolizes any decision we make in life. In this regard, we should understand the speaker as an ordinary person who’s facing an everyday situation. In fact, Frost makes it easy for us readers to see the speaker as a version of ourselves, since he doesn’t identify the speaker’s age, gender, race, or class. Like most people, the speaker considers the choices they’ve been presented with, and they evaluate the relative merits of these choices. Also like most people, the speaker has difficulty grasping the real differences between their options and is guided more by wishful thinking than by rigorous observation. But more important than the unfolding of their thoughts is the speaker’s overarching sense of remorse. The speaker feels sad about having to make a choice in the first place, since they know they’ll likely never get to go back and walk the road not taken.

Though the speaker is ordinary in the sense that they face a familiar and very common dilemma, they also possess a self-ironizing perspective that is perhaps less ordinary. In the final stanza, after reconciling themself to the fact that both paths were essentially identical, the speaker speculates about a future scenario where they might recount the story of this decision. Even though both paths “equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black” (lines 11–12), the speaker imagines telling their audience that one path was, in fact, “less traveled by” (line 19). In other words, the speaker has a fantasy about reconstructing their experience as a way to account for why their life will have turned out the way it did. This fantasy is ironic, since the speaker knows that their account would be a false reconstruction of what really happened. Yet there is also a suggestion of earnest worry in these lines. It’s as though the speaker can imagine themself telling this story “ages and ages hence” (line 17), at a time when they won’t actually recognize that their memory has rewritten their own history.