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Robert Frost And Masculinity: Comparing The Poems "Home Burial" And "Mending Wall"

2543 words - 11 pages

Robert Frost was a person who was very much immersed in masculinity, which was a paradoxical position for a poet to take during the 19th and 20th centuries. Poetry was mainly connected to effeminate and delicate men, and Frost was outwardly the polar opposite of that perception. He was, indeed, a rugged, rural New England individual; a man who couldn't be any farther from delicate, and certainly didn't intend to be delicate on his readers. He was a farmer, a true woodsman, and in most of his poems channeled that frontiersman persona and created masculine characters that were mirror images of his own lifestyle; the male characters in Frost's poetry could even be said to be extensions of Frost ...view middle of the document...

The "Something there is that doesn't love a wall,/ That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it" is nature itself, creating "gaps even two can pass abreast" in a man-made wall. The fact the Frost included the phrase "even two can pass abreast" indicates that it is not natural to build a wall between men so that they cannot communicate, and that nature is even acting out against the stone wall to make space for not only one human being to pass through, but that even two men could pass abreast. It is even more interesting to note that the natural occurrence that doesn't love the wall is a "frozen-ground-swell", or frost heaves. Due to the omission of frost heaves and the use of the phrase "frozen-ground-swell" instead, the reader is left to contemplate more on what a "frozen-ground-swell" represents, and when the word frost enters the mind an automatic association is made between the first speaker in the poem and Robert Frost himself. Though it only makes sense that the "I" mentioned later in the poem would be Robert Frost, it seems more possible after that association is made, and seems even more evident that Robert Frost has already taken a stance on the issue of society's belief that men should stay emotionally separate from one another to maintain their masculinity and dominance, all within the first four lines of "Mending Wall".The two male characters that Frost portrays in "Mending Wall" are contrasting individuals that he utilizes to show that the walls built between men are only created to keep dominance intact, and the playful questioning of those ideals by the first speaker contrasted with the blind following of those ideals by the second speaker, solidify the idea that even Frost saw the ludicrousness of society's expectations of masculinity. Though the main speaker in the poem seems to believe that walls are necessary as much as the second speaker does, he still attempts to question the precedent. The first speaker refers to the stone wall as something very fragile, unpredictable, and unnatural, stating that the stones never stay in place and that the neighbors "have to use a spell to make them balance". Even though the wall satisfies the society-induced urge to create barriers around their own domains and control what belongs to them, it is something abnormal and almost inhuman to keep the walls intact. The idea of using a spell to satisfy a natural urge is almost paradoxical, because a spell is nothing but supernatural. The understated way that Frost conveys that singular statement seems to contrast society's ideas of masculinity; they cannot be something entirely correct if it takes so much unnatural effort to keep them intact. The first speaker further mocks the idea when saying "My apple trees will never get across/ And eat the cones under his pines", creating an unrealistic image to further show the ridiculousness of these barriers. The first speaker's desire to question the precedents set by men before him comes through directly...

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