In the poem "Mending Wall," Robert Frost utilizes the literary devices of imagery, meter, and symbolism to demonstrate the rational and irrational boundaries or metaphoric "walls" humans place on their relationships with others. The precise images, such as the depiction of the mending-time ritual and the dynamic description of his "old-stone savage armed" neighbor, serve to enhance our enjoyment as well as our understanding of the poem (40). The poem is written in blank verse (iambic pentameter); the form that most closely resembles everyday English. Frost deliberately employs this direct, conversational, and easy to understand style of meter which appears simple on the surface. Although symbolism is used throughout, the three most significant symbols are: the wall, his neighbor, and Frost himself as the speaker. Analyzing each of these devices as well as how they harmonize with one another is necessary in order to appreciate what Frost was revealing about human behavior.
Frost begins the poem by relating the damage that has been inflicted upon the wall. The stunning image of the force "that sends the frozen-ground-swell under it and spills the upper boulders in the sun, and makes gaps even two can pass abreast" shows us that something natural, beautiful, and perhaps divine is taking place (2-4). From the very beginning he suggests that living without the wall is something positive. As the poem continues, we are introduced to two farmers engaged in the annual task of making repairs to the stone wall which separates their properties. In lines 14-17, Frost gives us the description of the neighbors meeting to walk the line, each picking up and r...
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...n himself and others.
As the speaker, Frost creates himself as a character that everyone can relate to. He is a philosophical farmer, and a hard working man of the earth. He realizes that there is a higher force that does not approve of the walls. Frost, at the same time, initiates the spring mending and works to tear it down by questioning the ritual. He makes the boundaries while trying to break them. It is for these reasons that Frost is symbolic of all of mankind. We go through this ritual daily, choosing who we wall in or out. Humans also create these boundaries on a national level, giving us identification with a certain country or ethnic group and harmfully stressing the differences between us. Like Frost, we question these actions and hopefully attempt to change ourselves for the better. Tearing down these walls is a constant but rewarding struggle.
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