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Analysis Of "The Mending Wall" By Robert Frost

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Autor:   •  January 4, 2011  •  1,171 Words (5 Pages)  •  692 Views

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Analysis of Mending Wall by Robert Frost

In his poem 'Mending Wall', Robert Frost presents to us the ideas of barriers between people, communication, friendship and the sense of security people gain from barriers. His messages are conveyed using poetic techniques such as imagery, structure and humour, revealing a complex side of the poem as well as achieving an overall light-hearted effect. Robert Frost has cleverly intertwined both a literal and metaphoric meaning into the poem, using the mending of a tangible wall as a symbolic representation of the barriers that separate the neighbours in their friendship.

The theme of the poem is about two neighbours who disagree over the need of a wall to separate their properties. Not only does the wall act as a divider in separating estates, it also acts as a barrier in the neighbours' friendship, separating them. For the neighbour with the pine trees, the wall is of great significance, as it provides a sense of security and privacy. He believes that although two people can still be friendly neighbours, some form of barrier is needed to separate them and 'wall in' the personal space and privacy of the individual. This is shown through his repeated saying, 'good fences make good neighbours' (line 27). The neighbour's property is a representation of his privacy and the wall acts as a barrier against intrusion.

The poem itself is a technique Robert Frost uses to convey his ideas. Behind the literal representation of building walls, there is a deeper metaphoric meaning, which reflects people's attitudes towards others. It reflects the social barriers people build, to provide a sense of personal security and comfort, in the belief that barriers are a source of protection which will make people less vulnerable to their fears. Robert Frost's ideas are communicated strongly through the perspective of the narrator in the poem, the 'I' voice, who questions the need for barriers. The use of conversation and the thoughts of the narrator reflect the poet's own thoughts. In line thirty to line thirty-five, the narrator questions the purpose of a wall. He has an open disposition and does not understand the need to 'wall in' or 'wall out' anything or anyone.

One of the poetic techniques that Robert Frost uses in 'Mending Wall' to convey his ideas, is imagery. In the first eleven lines of the poem, it is used to describe the degradation of the wall, creating a visual image for the reader. The sentence structure of the first line of the poem places emphasis on 'something'. This, compound with the use of personification, makes 'something' appear alive and even human-like. Animate qualities have been given to 'something' through the use of the words 'love', 'sends', 'spills' and 'makes gaps' (lines 1-4), illustrating a vivid impression of the degradation of the wall. Nature, in the form of cold weather, frost and the activities of small creatures, gradually destroys the wall. The narrator seems to believe that walls are unnatural and suggests that nature dislikes walls. This is portrayed through the phrase 'sends the frozen ground swell under it' (line 2). The poem describes nature making holes in the wall large enough that 'even two can pass abreast'. Literally, this refers to the size of the holes. However, it can also be interpreted that nature wishes the men to 'walk together', side by side, living in harmony where there is no barrier in their friendship that separates them.

Figurative expressions are used in 'Mending Wall' to describe the relationship between the neighbours. Many phrases contain both a literal and metaphoric meaning. For example, the phrases 'to walk the line' and 'set the wall between us' (lines 13,14) refers to the building of a tangible wall that marks the boundary of the neighbours' properties. These phrases are also figurative and represent the setting of a barrier in the neighbours' friendship. When they meet to repair the wall, it could be metaphorically interpreted as repairing their friendship and resolving disputes. 'To each the boulders have fallen to each' (line 16) shows that faults lie on the behalf of both neighbours. The metaphor in line seventeen compares their disputes to loaves and balls - some are small


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