Mending the Wall
Barriers exist everywhere. They can be physical, like walls, doors, and even one’s own skin. They can also be emotional or figurative, when people block out certain aspects, or hide certain things from others. In Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” there is both a literal wall and a figurative wall between the two neighbors. Through imagery, diction and tone, and symbolism Frost conveys a double meaning of both the literal wall and the figurative one.
At the beginning of the poem, Frost creates a visual image for the reader. The ground is “frozen” (2) and “spills the upper boulders,” (3) and there are “gaps even two can pass abreast.” (4) Through these and other vivid descriptions, the readers are able to create a picture in their head about the scene and setting of the poem. Through the cold weather and small animals destroying the wall, the speaker is able to convey that walls are unnatural and are barriers created by man and their need for control. As large gaps are made, the speaker refers to them as big enough “even two can pass abreast.” (4) This is referring to, literally, the size of the gaps made but Frost also illustrates the separation of the two men’s life, and the gaps would allow the men be able to walk along side each other and live in harmony with each other.
Diction and tone are related poetic elements that are prevalent in Frost’s efforts to convey the double meaning of the wall. The speaker refers to the annual mending as an “out-door game.” (21) Through this, along with the sarcastic tone perceived, the reader is able to see how the speaker sees the wall as a barrier in the neighbor’s relationship. The speaker seems to want the wall gone, as it only serves to separate something that does not need separating. He does not understand how the wall makes them better neighbors; he sees it as a wall in the neighbor-friendship as well as a property line. The speaker uses the word “offence” (34) to describe how some would feel...
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