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"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

Catherine Molho
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catherine molho

on 13 April 2011

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Transcript of "Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold

"Dover Beach" by Matthew Arnold Catherine Molho Matthew Arnold born at Laleham on the Thames on Dec. 24, 1822
Several of Arnold's early poems express his hopeless love for a girl he calls Marguerite.
Scholars have not been able to find evidence as to whether or not she actually existed
In 1851 Arnold married Frances Lucy Wightman. They had a happy marriage and some of Arnold's best poems are addressed to their children.
Some of Arnold's best poems are "Dover Beach," "To Marguerite--Continued," and "The Buried Life."
Arnold was one of the great Victorian controversialists
He has generally witty and ironic style but it varies in poems like "Dover Beach" that are more meloncholy.
In 1883 and 1886 he toured the United States and gave lectures to try to culturalize America.
On April 15, 1888, Arnold went to Liverpool to meet his daughter and he died there of a sudden heart attack. Time Period "Dover Beach" was written between 1840 and 1850, but it was not published until 1867.
It was most likely written after Arnold's marriage to Frances Lucy during their honeymoon to Dover, England.
The Victorian Era was a time when many were losing faith in God because of Darwinism and other evoluntionary theories.
The world was shifting from one with a basic belief in Christian traditions to one based on the impersonal world of Darwin and other 19th century scientists. Explanation In the first six lines Arnold presents the setting, a beach near Dover, England. He describes the beach and creates a tranquil scene with words like "calm," "fair," and "sweet."
The next two lines are a transition in the stanza noted by the words "long line of spray," and "grating roar" which introduces the symbolism between the waves and faith.
In the next few lines, Arnold focuses on the waves and their movement. He describes the hopelesness of humanity through time.
In the second stanza, Arnold alludes to Sophocles and his beliefs in the suffering of man that relate to the motion of the ocean.
The subsequent lines reveal the main theme of the poem:

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.

Here Arnold encounters a larger message in the way the waves crash onto the sand and the flow of the ocean.
The "Sea of Faith" is a metaphor for faith in God. He relates the movement of the waves receding back into the sea to the faith he has lost.
He also transitions to using auditory images rather than visual ones. He describes the sound of the waves rather than the way they look.
The sea is not tranquil as it was in the beginning of the poem, but more turbulent.
In the last stanza Arnold speaks to his significant other, most likely his wife. He tells her that they must be faithful to one another and love each other because only the love of their relationship can fill the void where faith in God once was. Theme The overall theme of "Dover Beach" is that due to changes in the world, the world is losing their faith in God and the only thing that can fill the void that faith once filled is loyalty, comfort, and ultimately love.
Another theme is the conflict between religion and sceince. Symbolism & Metaphors The sea is used as an image and metaphor for faith in God
The image of the tide leaving the shore is a metaphor for the loss of faith in the modern age
"Sea of Faith" = faith in God



Figurative Language Arnold beings by using visual imagery about the sea and shifts to sound imagery.
He creates a tranquil and calm scene in the first stanza of the poem with words like, "calm" and "fair"
The phrase "long line of spray," creates a transition to the poem introducing a light feeling of tension and anger
Phrases like "grating roar" and "fling" complete the transition period and the poem becomes filled with tension and melancholy
The melancholy is expressed through phrases like the "eternal note of sadness,""human misery," and the imagery of the endless motion of the waves
Arnold employs such words as "melancholy," "withdrawing roar," "retreating," "drear," and "naked" to express a sense of loss and despair. Rhetorical Devices Alliteration: to-night, tide; full, fair; gleams, gone; coast, cliff; long line; which the waves; folds, furled
Metaphors: which the waves draw back, and fling (losing faith in God); turbid ebb and flow of human misery (comparison of human misery to the flow of the sea); The Sea of Faith (faith in God)
Simile: The world, which seems / To lie before us like a land of dreams (compare the world to a land of dreams)
Anaphora: So various, so beautiful, so new (repetition of so) ; nor love, nor light, / Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain (repetition of nor) St. Paul's Epistle Arnold uses the same rhythm and line structure of chapter 8, verses 38-39 of St Paul's epistle to the Romans found in the New Testament.
However, their messages are very different. In the verses from Romans, Paul is affirming faith in the sure and undying love of God, whereas Arnold itemizes the emptinesses that imply the Divine absence and the impossibility of faith. Music & Art Music: Together We Will Live Forever - Clint Mansell. Both the song and "Dover Beach" are mainly sorrowful. The sound of pure piano creates the hopeless and sorrowful mood that relates to "Dover Beach"
Art: Breaking Waves, Pebble Beach - Ansel Adams. The poem is about the ocean and Arnold uses the motion of the sea as a metaphor for faith in God, and this picture depicts that same motion in the waves. Tone Melancholic and lamentic tone expressed in phrases such as "tremulous cadence," "eternal note of sadness," "turbid ebb and flow of human misery," and "long withdrawing roar"
Arnold's various descriptions of the waves and sea suggest melancholy and hopelessness in returning faith in God. "Dover Beach" By: Matthew Arnold
The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
upon the straits; - on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Whwere the sea meets the moon-blanched land.
Listen! you hear the grating rowar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back and fling.
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in. Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.
The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating to the breath
Of night-wing, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So carious, so beautiful, so now,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light.
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight.
Where ignorant armies clash by night. Most Important Line "The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled."

These lines sum up the entire theme of losing faith in God. Line & Stanza Form There is rhyme in the poem, but it does not follow any specific rhyme scheme
There are four stanzas with various number of verses
Arnold does not follow any specific poetic format, therefore it can be classified as free verse even though it does have some rhyming parts
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