Assignment Topic: Poetry
“Choose any poem or group of poems from our readings (or from your own reading) that you want to write about. Then do a critical analysis of any of the following elements: characters, theme, setting, point of view, imagery, symbolism, figurative language, or prosody (structure, rhythm, rhyme). How does the writer use these features to express an idea or an emotion?
Alternatively, you may investigate the cultural, historical, or philosophical thinking at the time a poem was written and describe how those elements affected the ideas in the poem.”
ESSAY WRITTEN SOLUTION
Critical Analysis- Mending Wall
Mending Wall by Robert Frost talks about two neighbors who live close by each other and are separated by a wall. The speaker is adamant about the relevance of the wall that separates them and wishes to interact with the neighbor more often. They meet once a year to mend the wall which hunters keep tearing down during their hunting sprees in search of rabbits. The hunters are more interested in the happiness of their dogs, hence their continuous habit of tearing the wall apart. The speaker says, “The work of hunters is another thing; I have come after them and made repair; Where they have left not one stone on a stone; But they would have the rabbit out of hiding; To please the yelping dogs.” Therefore, during spring, both neighbors come out to mend the fence. The speaker suggests that they should do away with the fence since none of them has cows which would stray into the other person’s compound. The neighbor has pine and while the speaker has an apple orchard at the boundary which at best, do not overlap and therefore poses no challenge or need for a boundary. However, the neighbor maintains their stance about their position saying, “good fences make good neighbors.”
Robert Frost presents several elements in his poem which uses most figurative language to fully present the position and feelings of the speaker in the poem. The following is a breakdown of the composition of Mending Wall:
Characters: The poem involves two active characters; the speaker and his neighbor with whom they help each other mend the wall separating them. The speaker wishes to build a friendship with the neighbor and does not see what separates them. He holds that there should not be a wall between them. However, the neighbor holds that “good fences make good neighbors,” which justifies his decision to keep his neighbor at a physical and contextual distance.
Theme: The dominant theme in the Mending Wall is the theme of tradition and social customs. We see a strong sense of rigidity in the relationship between the two neighbors. The speaker shows an open mind in the way they should relate going forward. He proposes each spring that they should stop mending the wall since there is no threat that the wall cures. However, the neighbor is so conservative that they only have one way of addressing the relationship between them, “good fence makes good neighbors.”
Setting: The setting in the poem is at the wall that the speaker and his neighbor have been mending in a ritual-fashion. The speaker says, “I see him there Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.” The speaker talks about the advantages of not having a wall between them, but the neighbor keeps on adding stones onto the already stable wall, which shows their hesitation towards close relationships.
Point of View: The poem portrays two people with different points of view towards the subject matter, While the speaker holds onto the opinion that there should be no wall between them. These is no property that is endangered with the absence of a wall; neither cows nor nappier grass. The two neighbors only plant pine and apples, which pose no threat to each other. The neighbor holds a very different point of view. They are not interested in the traits of their neighbor and wants things to remain that way, claiming that there is no much good in not exploiting any relationship than exploiting the relationship between them.
Imagery: The poem has several examples of imageries which try to paint a picture in the minds of the audience about what the situation looks like. The speaker says “And some are loaves and some so nearly balls.” We picture how the boulders in the poem looked like, reflecting on how a loaf and a ball looks like. The speaker also says, “a stone grasped firmly,” which makes us picture how firm the grasp was.
Symbolism: The entire Mending Wall poem is symbolical. The neighbors are actual figures who have different perspectives on how to live together. The wall is symbolical as it signifies boundaries and space between the two neighbors. The demolition of the wall is also symbolical as it signifies the brokenness of trust and close relationships. The actual meaning of the poem is that two neighbors meet every year to discuss issues that separate them. However, while the speaker wants a consistent and strong relationships, the neighbor prefers that they remain as neighbors and no more.
Figurative Language: The phrase, “Good fences make good neighbors” is an old wise saying that the neighbor keeps reminding the speaker when he suggests that they become close to each other. There is a simile when the speaker says, “Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top; In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.” In this case, he compares the firm grip that the neighbor holds the stone to an old savage. There is also an element of allusion when the neighbor poses that spring is the mischief that they have. The allusion explains why the speaker hates springs, since they cannot get what they want when the mending time comes.
Frost, Robert. “Mending wall.” North of Boston 12 (1914).