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Robert Frost's Mending Wall

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Analysis "Mending Wall", By Robert Frost

In "Mending Wall", Robert Frost uses a series of contrasts, to express his own conflict between tradition and creation. By describing the annual ritual of two neighbors repairing the wall between them, he contrasts both neighbors through their ideas and actions, intertwining the use of parallelism and metaphors, in order to display his own innermost conflict as a poet; the balance between what is to be said and what is to be left to the reader, the balance between play and understanding.

From the very first line, the speaker is presented as playful and intelligent, and clearly not a 'native' farmer. He gives an enjoyable and roundabout, almost magical, phrasing to the first line, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall", leaving it deliciously unclear. This "it", who the reader later realizes is frost--as in winter's frost--is what tears down the wall. Yet in the speaker's own refusal to define it, he displays his love for childlike playfulness and belief in magic, thus portraying that as his own desire for the actual cause. This line takes a part in the parallelism an contrast with the neighbor's only line, "Good fences make good neighbors", with both lines being repeated twice in the poem. This obviously establishes and important parallelism in the poem, contrasting the clear-cut and direct nature of the neighbor, with the more enchanting and intelligent nature of the speaker, all to be represented through their own opinions about the wall.

It is little after that one of the poem's metaphors emerges. The speaker's inability to understand the necessity for the wall, results in his mocking of the neighbor by attempting to convince him, sarcastically of course, that his apple trees will never get across and eat his pines, and thus concluding that the wall is not necessary. Though the speaker is clearly being facetious, he nevertheless establishes an antagonistic tone, mocking the stubbornness of the neighbor by implying that the apples are going to eat the non-edible pine cones. Another contrasting metaphor appears here as the speaker, being livelier and less strict, is the grower of apples--also the fruit of choice for fairy-tales, while the neighbor, who sticks to old clichйs and traditions, is the grower of the acidic and hard pine cones.

Nevertheless, furthering Frost's idea of contrast, it is the speaker, and not the farmer, who initiates the mending of the wall. This clearly appears paradoxical, yet appears quite more logical as one realizes the speaker's tie to fantasy, and because of it, the speaker's childlike need for a 'fantasiable' experience. A broken wall is enough for him to take a fantastic journey into its causes. It is important to note that the speaker criticizes not the useless nature of a wall, but the useless nature of this wall, as "[t]here where it is we do not need the wall". The speaker's own dislike of the wall is contrasted by the neighbor's viewing of it as a fence, in lieu of a wall, displaying how he views as a much less imposing manner than the speaker.

The speaker's intelligence and fantastical nature is made clear in the poem, through the many references to magic. Furthermore like a teasing child, the speaker "wonder[s]" if he could "put a notion in his [neighbor's] head", rather, if he could establish holes in his thinking, quite curious as he is attempting to tear down the mental wall of his neighbor's attachment to tradition. The speaker also has a magnificent pun with the word "offence", clearly referring to the possibility of it meaning "a fence"; thus, the speaker exploits his own neighbor's innocent viewing of a fence by making the same fence an "offence".

The speaker ever so desiring to interact with his neighbor, tempts him into entering the world of the imagination, yet realizes its futility as the neighbor will never say "elves" to him. Finally silent, the speaker sees his neighbor as an "old-stone savage armed," moving in "darkness," as he "will not go behind his father's saying." These last lines prove to be extraordinary in that they show how the speaker refuses to give up his imaginative world. And rather

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