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The Idea Of Loneliness And Isolation In The Poems By Robert Frost – Free Essay Example

In our current world, although it may not seem so, isolation and loneliness are themes that are relatively present in our society. Robert Lee Frost, an American poet, famously known for poems surrounding these themes comments on the nature of the society that we live in and how we as humans interact with each other. The difficulty in communication and relating to one another leads to people tending to shut themselves off from one and other. The exploration of themes is mainly done in poems such as Mending Wall, Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening, and Acquainted with the Night. Throughout Frost’ troubled life filled with illness and loss of loved ones, we learn about his view of isolation in the world based on his personal experiences. This raises the line of inquiry: How does Robert Frost communicate the idea of loneliness and isolation in his poems? Through an analysis of Frosts’ use of poetic techniques such as repetition, personification and other stylistic devices.

The ‘Mending Wall’ is a perfect example of how the absence of communication creates a form of self-isolation. There is a wall between two neighbouring farms which although being a simple structure causes a separation between two worlds so to speak. It is clear the narrator and mother nature are against the wall seen through quotes such as,

‘That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;’

Whereas the neighbour believes, ‘Good fences make good neighbours’. It’s as if even nature is trying to force the wall down that separates both farms as it ‘sends frozen-ground-swell under it spilling the upper boulders in the sun’ thereby causing the wall to break down and having to be repaired every year. There is a sort of back and forth fight going on with the narrator and the neighbour. Continuously there are statements referring to the uselessness and no purpose of the wall; then followed by a repeated statement ‘goods fences neighbours make good neighbours’. The narrator is struggling to reach out to the neighbour and is constantly hit with a forceful brick wall statement which he finds too hard to get past. However, many attempts the narrator makes to communicate or convince the neighbour; there is no hope. Even while repairing it can be seen as a sign from mother nature to bring the two closer together. However, through Frost’s use of language, we know that once again the same cycle will continue,

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‘And on a day we meet to walk the line

And set the wall between us once again.

We keep the wall between us as we go.’

Frost also makes use of symbolism to reinforce his point.

As the hunters break down the wall in order to hunt and let the rabbits come from their hiding or isolation spot. Even this can be seen as an ‘attempt’ from mother nature to bring the wall down. However, it is pointed out to the neighbour he this time refers to it as ‘the mischief’ that spring brings with it. This can be seen as a final attempt by mother nature whereafter they both remain in isolation. Frost proves from this that isolation is not only as a result of physical obstructions, but that lack of communication also plays a significant role.

The theme of loneliness and isolation is not only present in Mending wall but also in Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy evening but for a different reason. Rather than the more psychological loneliness, in Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening is more physical isolation. The narrator in this poem finds himself all isolated from the rest of the village alone with himself. Whereas we usually associate isolation and loneliness as negative in this poem rather than than the narrator seeking social interaction, he is enjoying being surrounded by nature and wants to stay longer.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

From this quote, we can see that although he wants to stay, he has ‘promises to keep’ and likely needs to return to do something. The use of repetition in this quote shows not only his physical fatigue but also his emotional fatigue. It’s as if he’s reassuring himself and convincing himself that he has to return because of the long journey ahead and obligations he has. The horse also emphasises the narrator’s love for isolation. And although it is not a human eager to leave, we still get the essence of what Frost is trying to say. ‘He gave his harness bells a shake, To ask if there is some mistake’, ‘Queer to stop without a farmhouse near’ Its as if his horse is also telling him to keep moving and is confused by his search for isolation. The loneliness comes in when the narrator mentions that the owner of the woods lives by the village. Essentially what is being described is a place without people because the owner lives in the village. And also a place with a border ‘Between the woods and frozen lake’ meaning the lake is acting as a barrier or a border from isolation in the woods to the village. He is all alone with his horse, no other sounds only the bells on the harness of his horse, and a light breeze with snowfall further proving how truly isolated he is.

The final poem, Acquainted with the Night arguable one of Frost’ most famous poems, is likely one of the clearest poems that can be associated with loneliness and isolation. By using a blank and smooth rhythm in each of the stanzas, slightly dark and gloomy imagery, and unique word choice, Frost conveys the feeling and theme of loneliness and isolation.

It follows the narrator/speaker as he walks the empty streets at Night, trying to outrun his anxiety and fear. Like many the poems previously mentioned the speaker walks in despair and has detached himself from society even avoiding human contact when he comes across someone someone ‘I have passed by the watchman on his beat and dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain’. Although this quote indicates that the narrator or person that we are following isolates himself, he does still want human contact ‘But not to call me back or say good-bye;’. He feels a form of rejection because he is sad the call is not directed at him. This shows although he avoids human contact, he still wants to feel needed or wanted by someone. Frost’ use of descriptive language also helps prove this point further. He is describing the moon as ‘luminary’ but at ‘an unearthly height’. Its as if there is hope in sight but still too far to reach. Whatever human contact he can obtain he wants to be reached out to rather than have to reach out himself. The light brings him hope and reaches out to him; however, he cannot physically get himself out of the isolation. Frost also repeats certain words like ‘I have’ which can be seen as a form of self-reassurance as if he’s talking to himself and reflecting on what he can do.

Overall, Frost is able to create an atmosphere that represents isolation and loneliness across all three of the poems, although set in completely different settings. He is able to give the feeling of loneliness even when there are people around and lack of communication being the centre point of that theme.

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