Explication of The Mending Wall

Explication of The Mending Wall - An Explication of Robert...

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An Explication of Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” An Examination of Boundaries
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Introduction • Frost banished himself to isolation on a farm in New England for five years. • He examined man’s relationship with the universe in his collection: A Boy’s Will • He followed this with a more complex examination of man’s relationship with man in his collection: North of Boston • “Mending Wall” is the best known poem from this collection.
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Frost on Poetry • “It is the critic's job to open the closed doors that make poems ‘good,’ to catch the fish that swims below the surface: ‘I sometimes think a poem is like a pond with a smooth surface, and there's something in it that once in a while breaks the surface’ ( Academy 69). • “Mending Wall” is a well stocked poem. The fish swimming below the surface provide much food for thought.
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Thematic Overview • The theme of this poem is not subtle; Frost uses the quaint tradition of rebuilding a stone wall to explore the boundaries men create between themselves. • The wall metaphorically represents these boundaries governing human behavior. • The process of “mending” the wall connotes the process of maintaining the boundaries that exist in human relations.
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The Wall Metaphor • The wall may represent isolation, fear and confinement. • The wall may be interpreted as boundaries between races and cultures. • The wall, psychologically, may represent repression or denial. • Alternatively, the wall may represent the status quo and an attempt to maintain an unnatural divisive order.
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Dramatic Situation • Upon a first reading, the poem ostensibly is about two neighbors who meet on an assigned day to mend a wall between their properties. • The time is Spring and the place presumably somewhere in New England. • The speaker, however, begins the poem stating that something “doesn’t love a wall.” This is an immediate break in the surface of the poem and should signal us to open the closed door.
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Lines 1-4 • After beginning with the observation that there is “something” “that doesn’t love a wall,” the speaker points out that forces of nature, frost heaves, tear at the wall during the winter months. • The suggestion is that boundaries between humans are not natural, but are an artificial creation: a construct of civilization and therefore subject to erosion by natural forces. • The setting of Spring, a time of celebrating earth’s renewal and human community, contrasts the annual ritual that divides and separates. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
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Explication of The Mending Wall - An Explication of Robert...

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