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Literary Devices in Mending Wall

Literary Devices Examples in Mending Wall:

Mending Wall

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"He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."..."   (Mending Wall)

The poem ends with a repetition of the proverb. Between the two instances of the proverb, the moral stakes of the poem’s situation have become clear. Both the narrator and the neighbor desire to destroy the wall, and yet both men agree to build it anyway. The conclusion represents a triumph of civilization over primalism. This conclusion is far from simplistic or pleasant however. For each person, the confinement of the darker, more primitive sides of the self is an ongoing internal struggle.

"go behind his father's saying,..."   (Mending Wall)

Frost uses prepositional language to convey the neighbor’s relationship to the wall. The idea of the neighbor “go[ing] behind his father’s saying” suggests that the father’s proverb—“Good fences make good neighbours”—is an object, a wall. To act against the saying and deny the importance of “good fences” would be to cross over to the other side of the wall of tradition and civility.

"Something there is that doesn't love a wall, That wants it down."..."   (Mending Wall)

Here the poem’s opening line is repeated. The identity of the “something” has shifted. At first, the narrator suspects there is a force of nature seeking to destroy the wall. The word “there” points to an external cause. By this point in the poem, however, it is clear that the “something” is not out “there” but rather within the human soul.

"SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall..."   (Mending Wall)

The poem opens with a mysterious phrase. The first word signals to us that the poem will uncover that “something… that doesn’t love a wall.” In the beginning, that “something” appears to be the forces of nature. But when the phrase is repeated later on, it becomes the narrator who challenges the wall’s existence.

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