Essay about The Theme of Isolation in Robert Frost's The Mending Wall

Essay about The Theme of Isolation in Robert Frost's The Mending Wall

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The Theme of Isolation in Robert Frost's The Mending Wall


Robert Frost's "The Mending Wall" is a comment on the nature of our society. In this poem, Frost examines the way in which we interact with one another and how we function as a whole. For Frost, the world is often one of isolation. Man has difficulty communicating and relating to one another. As a result, we have a tendency to shut ourselves off from others. In the absence of effective communication, we play the foolish game of avoiding any meaningful contact with others in order to gain privacy.

"The Mending Wall" describes two neighboring farmers who basically live in isolation, at least from one another. Frost's use of language reinforces the idea of isolation. When writing about the wall's annual collapse, Frost uses the word "gaps" to describe the holes in the wall. However, this could also stand for the "gaps" that the neighbors are placing between each other. "No one has seen them made or heard them made" but somehow the gaps naturally exist and are always found when the two get together.

The narrator describes the location of his neighbor as "beyond the hill", another phrase suggesting isolation. The separation between the two men is apparent, both physically and mentally. Even when the neighbor comes from "beyond the hill" on the fence mending day, he remains far away. The narrator describes how his neighbor seems to "move in darkness ... not of woods only and the shade of trees". The darkness hanging over him is his inability to communicate and relate with others. He is unwilling to "go behind his father's saying, and he likes having thought of it so well He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'" For the neighbor, this saying serves as...


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...he narrator realizes that "there where it is we do not need the wall". There is no fear that the narrator's apple orchards and the pine trees of the neighbor will harm each other in any way. Yet they continue with this annual game and "wear" their "fingers rough with handling" the stones. Thus, Frost is pointing out that the game is not only pointless, but harmful. However harmful the wall mending may be, the men continue the yearly tradition of mending the wall. It seems to provide them with some comfort, as they are able to symbolically shut one another out. For them, it is easier than learning to deal with the world around them. Until they give up the symbolic practice of mending the wall, however, they will never mend their strained relations with the outside world. As Frost uses the title of the poem to suggest, only then can the wall become a "mending wall".

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