Mending Wall, By Robert Frost Essay

1230 words - 5 pages

Many works of literature contain an aspect of writing in which the author relays a story to the reader directly in order to conceal a deeper hidden meaning or concept that the reader will later discover. Authors veil the messages they wish readers to uncover using literary devices such as metaphor. In “Mending Wall” Robert Frost uses the metaphor of the wall to reveal the literal and figurative distance between the speaker and his neighbor to present the question as to whether or not neighbors need walls. Beyond expressly stating the existence of the wall, Frost often constructs the individual lines of the poem to look like a wall to further create the illusion of walls in the poem. The poem’s form and content creates and reinforces the idea of the literal and figurative wall which exists between the two men in “Mending Wall”. Frost also uses metaphor to conceal his opinion on the necessity of walls through the character of the speaker.
The poem “Mending Wall” is narrated by a character referred to as the speaker. The speaker is characterized as a contemplative, whimsical, and withdrawn man. At the very start of the poem the speaker contemplates how the wall falls into disarray over the course of the winter, he thinks of hunters, that while chasing foxes, topple the perched boulders from their place on the stone wall (5-9). The speaker is a whimsical imaginative man, he envisions using spells to keep the boulder in place (18), and that building the wall with his neighbor is “just another outdoor game” (21). His playful nature comes out in the spring, as he likes to prod his neighbor to engage in conversation about why they need a wall between their properties (28). However, the speaker’s main attribute is his withdrawn antisocial personality. The almost the entire poem is a conversation that takes place in the mind of the speaker. He wishes to engage in jokes with the neighbor “I could say ‘elves’ to him” (36) but always falls into silence. He hopes that he can convince his neighbor to remove the wall, not only from between their yards, but also the wall that stops their friendship from blossoming. He coaxes the neighbor with the idea that “my apple trees will never get across / and eat the cones under his pines, I tell him” (25-26). The speaker will never bother the neighbor and has hope that the neighbor will come to this realization on his own, “I’d rather / he said it for himself” (37-38).
The second person present in the poem “Mending Wall” is the neighbor. The neighbor is first mentioned as being “beyond the hill” (12), as someone who is distant from the speaker. This distance is also evident when the speaker notes “we keep the wall between us as we go” (15), this is not an amiable relationship, they do not walk together, they stay separated as they perform their annual ritual. The speaker creates a likeness of the neighbor to pines, tress which only grow on ground which does not let other plants grow around them, saying that the...

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