20 July 2011
An Analysis of Robert Frost's Mending Wall
In his poem, “Mending Wall”, Robert Frost presents two gentlemen and their annual effort to repair a wall that separates their property. Frost uses the wall as a metaphor to portray the idea of barriers between people, and the repairing of the wall to demonstrate repairing a friendship and coming together. Frost uses metaphoric symbolism in the poem, using the process of repairing an actual wall, as a representation of the barriers that separate two neighbors. Behind the literal representation of repairing this wall, there is a much deeper meaning, which reflects coming together, overcoming obstacles, and resolving social barriers. While the belief is that barriers offer a source of protection and privacy, in this case, they are used to bring friends together. Clearly, the process of mending the wall is a metaphor that Frost uses to exemplify an idea about borders as a representation of barriers but also as a vehicle for demonstrating the mending of a relationship. As for his interpretation of “Mending Wall”, Craig Dworkin dissects the poem with an idea that the entire poem is based on figurative words, meanings, and implications. He states, “When Frost wrote “Mending Wall”, the figurative use of a ‘spell’ would still have carried the meaning of guessing something secret or discovering something hidden, and the words would have explicitly denoted decipherment.” Dworkin claims that just as the speaker in the poem has to use a spell to make the stones balance, "we have to use a spell to make the poem balance with its matrix” (Dworkin). Here he alludes to the idea that Frost has used inventive play on words along with leading the reader to a summary, which is hidden deep within the lines of the poem. He goes on to call the encryption of “the matrix a "hypogram" (hypo "under" + gram "writing"); the hypogram is quite literally the subtext of the poem,...
Cited: and Annotation
Dworkin, Craig. "Critical Essay on 'Mending Wall '." Poetry for Students. Ed. Mary K. Ruby.
Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 July 2011.
Craig Dworkin’s analogy of ‘Mending Wall’ does not dissect the actual content of the poem, nor does he offer his opinion of the real meaning to this poem. Dworkin does, however, claim that the poem is to grand to be analyzed simply. He feels that there is a far deeper message within the poem, one that requires great literary technique to unveil. This contrasting opinion is a viable argument because poems are intended to be interpreted many different ways.
Lentricchia, Frank. "Experience as Meaning: Robert Frosts 's 'Mending Wall, '." The CEA Critic
34.4 (May 1972): 9-11. Rpt. in Poetry for Students. Ed. Mary K. Ruby. Vol. 5. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 July 2011.
Frank Lentricchia’s interpretation of this poem supports my initial reaction that the poem is about barriers, friendships, struggles, and socializing rather than segregating. His analogy will strengthen my argument that this is the only interpretation based on the line-by-line dissection of the poem.
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