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 humor, 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 neighbors in their friendship.
The theme of the poem is about two neighbors 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 neighbors’ friendship, separating them. For the neighbor 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 neighbors, some form of barrier is needed to separate them and 'wall in' the personal space and privacy of the individual.
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. He has an open disposition and does not understand the need to 'wall in' or 'wall out' anything or anyone.
In the poem, the poet describes 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. Nature, in the form of cold weather, frost and the activities of small creatures, gradually destroys the wall. The poet seems to believe that walls are unnatural and suggests that nature dislikes walls. The poem describes nature making holes in the wall large enough that even two can pass abreast. This can 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 neighbors. When they meet to repair the wall, it could be metaphorically interpreted as repairing their friendship and resolving disputes. The metaphor in line seventeen compares their disputes to loaves and balls - some are small and some are large. Figurative language has been used to convey the meaning and significance of building the wall.
An overall light-hearted tone has been achieved throughout the poem. One of the main techniques used to achieve this is the inclusion of conversation. 'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!' and the metaphor 'spring is mischief in me' for example, shows the neighbors having fun in mending the wall together, creating a cheerful, light-hearted atmosphere. The comparison of the repairing of the fence to an outdoor game also contributes to this light-heartedness. Although the poet does not want the wall, ironically, the mending of the wall brings the neighbors together and literally builds their friendship. In repairing the fence, the neighbors are spending time together, building their friendship and improving the communication between them. Humor has also been used as a technique to achieve a light-hearted atmosphere. Because the fence is important to the neighbor, he treats the matter of repairing it seriously. Imagery is used to describe the neighbor's attitude, illustrating a rather grim, yet comical representation of him shifting the stones and repairing the fence. The poet sees the stubbornness in his...
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