In the poem “Mending Wall
” the speaker scorns his neighbour for his obstinate wall-building. What is strange, though, is that he himself, although disapproving of this idea, goes to the wall at all times and mends it. He clearly understands that the job is Sisyphean and that there is no need for barrier-building. Nevertheless, his neighbour claims that “good fences make good neighbours ”. The ritual of wall maintenance represents the duality of the nature of human society. On one hand there are the rights of the individual for privacy and keeping property boundaries and on the other hand it demonstrates the communal act. The two neighbours find an excuse in their wall building to meet. In fact, what seems an anti-social act can ironically be interpreted as a social gesture. Barriers confine, but at the same time building is constructive. The poem does not resolve the question of the purpose of the wall and at the same time the internal conflict of the speaker.
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening
” presents a different type of hesitation of the main character. His internal conflict is more of a temptation that he has to resist, because “he has promises to keep and miles to go”. The main character travels on a horse at night and on his way to the village he is attracted by the dark woods. One might say that it is a conflict between wilderness and civilization, however, not entirely. Woods are not totally wild, they belong to someone. They are dark, but not hostile, just sleepy, lovely and seductive. Society would condemn stopping in the dark and snow, and the horse represents the civilized order of things. It does not want to stop by the woods. In this poem, however, unlike in the “Mending Wall”, the decision is taken. The main character decides to choose civilization and responsibility rather than wilderness and irrational. His “miles to go” in the final lines of the poem do not suggest a burden but his willingness to fulfill his duties and going back home.