Robert Frost and Masculinity: Comparing the poems "Home Burial" and "Mending Wall"

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Robert Frost was a person who was very much immersed in masculinity, which was a paradoxical position for a poet to take during the 19th and 20th centuries. Poetry was mainly connected to effeminate and delicate men, and Frost was outwardly the polar opposite of that perception. He was, indeed, a rugged, rural New England individual; a man who couldn't be any farther from delicate, and certainly didn't intend to be delicate on his readers. He was a farmer, a true woodsman, and in most of his poems channeled that frontiersman persona and created masculine characters that were mirror images of his own lifestyle; the male characters in Frost's poetry could even be said to be extensions of Frost himself. Yet the pure primitive masculinity that Frost seemed to value is ironically put to the test in many of his poems. They are flooded with male characters that are either intended to be hard and callous, or suffering from the mold that society has placed them in; they build emotional barriers between each other to ensure that their dominance stays intact, and struggle with conveying natural human emotions because they contradict society's expectations of the allowed male emotional capacity.

Whether it is intentional or non-intentional, the male characters in Frost's poetry express an understated desire to break free from the masculine stereotype, and make the reader question not only society's unchanging assignment of specific gender roles, but Frost's own view of rugged masculinity, and bring out Frost's own anxieties with being a masculine poetic figurehead.

The most lighthearted Frost poem that directly addresses society's expectations of masculinity would be "Mending Wall", which not only questions the idea of barriers created in nature to be unnatural, but also barriers created between men to be unnatural as well. On the surface, "Mending...