Social Evolution Explained Through Poetry

Throughout the history of mankind, social evolution has been a key factor for the success of the human race. In the early beginnings of man, it was truly every man for themselves and humans were extremely territorial and untrusting of others. In Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” the narrator expounds upon this territorial mindset of the neighbor and attempts to understand why. Social evolution is a broad necessity for the success of all mankind, but can also be detrimental if the proper stimuli are introduced into the atmosphere to alter its course.

As one of the most renowned poets in American history, Robert Frost’s has had many different peer reviewed interpretations of his works throughout the last century. Samuel A. Thumma recently wrote an article relating “Mending Wall” to common law of negligence. Released in 2018, this article goes on to explain the five key areas of emphasis when arguing a common law negligence case in a court of law and how “Mending Wall” relates to the segregation of each of the five areas (Thumma).

Since law has had a direct correlation to the way a society progresses or digresses over time, this article provides clear evidence that poetic work from post-Civil War times has had major implications for current processes and advances for the future.

While common law can influence a society in a meaningful and profound way, physical borders can have just as much influence and affect. For example, the US and Mexico border has been a major topic of debate for the last few years with the building of the border wall.

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As Frost mentions, “Before I built a wall I’d ask to Know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offense” (Frost), there is an internal struggle as to why the narrator is rebuilding this fence with his neighbor every year. As in today’s society, many have asked the difficult question as to why America needs a massive border wall with Mexico. Is it to keep people inside safe or limit the opportunities to people outside the border? It was not long ago, in Germany, where the world witnessed the tearing down of the Berlin Wall, which was designed to separate West and East Germany. To summarize Davis and Williams writing, walls keep out unwanted enemies and annoyances from entering safe zones, but also are powerful symbols that can influence relationships at all levels, from individuals to international treaties (Davis and Williams). No matter a walls purpose, there will always be offense given to some as the world is made up of all walks of life with different beliefs, further complicating social evolution advancing in the future.

Although Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” was written over 100 years ago, there still are lessons to learn from the century old writing. Society in America, and the world, has improved immensely over the past century, however, just as Frost alludes to multiple times in the poem there will always be critics of building walls, both physical and social.

Works Cited

  • Davis, Robbie and Ed Williams. ‘Fences and Between Fences: Cultural, Historical, and Smithsonian Perspectives.’ journal of the Southwest 50.3 (2008): 243-261. Web. 10 June 2020. .
  • Frost, Robert. ‘Mending Wall.’ 1914. Website. 9 June 2020. .
  • Thumma, Samuel A. ”Mending Wall’ and Negligence: How a Poem can Inform the Common Law.’ 16 October 2018. Proquest. Wedsite. 12 June 2020. .

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Social Evolution Explained Through Poetry. (2021, Apr 26). Retrieved from

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