?Mending Wall? By Robert Frost Essay, Research Paper
Literary Analysis of “Mending Wall”
Robert Frost is describing a process in “Mending Wall”, which is repairing a wall that separates his territory and his neighbor’s. The wall was deteriorated during the winter, when the cold frost created cracks and gaps in the wall. He uses a nearly infantile imagination to unravel the mystery of the damage that appeared suddenly in spring. While they are tediously laboring to reconstruct the fence, Frost is imploring his neighbor about the use of the wall; his apple trees can be clearly distinguished from his neighbor’s pine trees. Yet underneath this quotidian routine, Frost goes beyond the surface to reveal its figurative meaning.
The poem renders an apparent question: Why do people build unnecessary obstructions between one another? Each the poet and his neighbor stays on his side of the wall, taking up the stones that had fallen on his own side, which suggests that there is no trespassing at all. The mysterious force that appears to be attempting to destroy the wall is a symbolic representation of the craving for harmony among all of mankind. This craving is almost depressing, because the dissatisfaction is never quenched. Its will is, however, strong and persistent, and it “makes gaps even two can pass abreast,” which is a plead for the men to put aside their differences and walk side by side. Frost sympathetically watches as his neighbor “moves in darkness.” The poet does not mean that he dwells under the shadow of his pine trees, but under the shadow of his hostile ignorance, and the poet perceives no hope for his brutality. The neighbor, however, thinks himself highly for his wit, disregards the wisdom of his father, and states indifferently, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Robert Frost uses several figures of speech throughout the poem. For example, he indicates that the practice of mending the barrier is futile, when he states the metaphor, “Oh, just another kind of outdoor game…it comes to little more.” Another metaphor he used is “Spring is the mischief in me.” Mischief here does not refer to anything relative to evil, but to friskiness that attempts to “put a notion in his head.” Yet this attempt is in unavailing, and the neighbor continues to repair the wall, and in the simile, “Like an old-stone savage armed”, Frost attests that his neighbor has the stride and stubborn ignorance of a caveman. He also uses other devices such as a pun, applied in the line, “And to whom I was like to give offence.” The last word of the line simply emphasizes the importance of the subject, the fence. The most prominent figure of speech, however, is the ironic, “Good fences make good neighbors.” This is completely opposite of the connotation of the poem. Fences do not make neighbors, but strangers that are apathetic towards each other. The neighbor seems to prefer this approach, to eliminate any risks of trespassing or offenses. Yet what the fence really does is hinder the development of friendship. This is comparable to the barriers of bitterness, anger, hate, and fear men put between one another that obstruct love and friendship.
The poet also used imagery to appeal to the senses. The puzzling force that abhors the wall “sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, and spills the upper boulders in the sun.” These tactile words create a feeling of coldness on the ground, and warmth produced by the effulgence of the sun. These lines also imply that where the barrier stands, there is darkness and frigid feelings, but where the barrier is not present, there is light and warmth. A line that appeals to hearing is “To please the yelping dogs.” The poet seemingly contradicts himself in this. These dogs are the urge that can only be pleased with the unmasking of the timid, inner person, the true self, represented by the rabbit. A wall is needed in this case, to avert pain, but Frost asserts that this is not the kind of barrier he is speaking of. In the visual phrase, “And some are loaves and some nearly balls”, the words “loaves” and “balls” portrays big and small problems or differences between people. He states with appeal to touch that “We wear our fingers rough with handling them.” In this, the poet proposes that we let ourselves be taxed with the problems and differences. He elaborates on this concept as he states another visual sentence, “He is all pine and I am apple orchard.” This line depicts the differences between him and his neighbor.
Robert Frost joins all his lines together in this narrative poem while still focusing on different ideas. He uses this style of poetry to develop the theme. Everything flows together yet stands apart line by line. Narratives are pleasingly unrestrained and their strive to tell stories are easeful. In “Mending Wall”, Frost tells a story of how nature has instilled an entropy in barriers to provoke peaceful living among all creatures. The construction of the wall may be in fact destruction of man’s relations with his peers.