Dover Beach

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"Dover Beach"
How is it possible that life can be so magnificent, but at other times it can be so miserable? Matthew Arnold probably asked himself this when he wrote "Dover Beach". Arnold put all of his thoughts and ideas about emerging modern world into this poem. He was noted as a social critic that wanted to develop an understanding of the new culture. The poem was written in June, 1851 following a visit a visit to a beach in Dover. "Dover Beach" links the problem of isolation with what Arnold saw as the dwindling faith of his time. Basically, this poem is about a sea and a beach, but there is a much deeper meaning that can be realized through further examination.

"Dover Beach" is written in free verse with a few rhyming words, but there is no particular rhyme scheme. Arnold is the speaker in the poem and it is in first person point of view which is apparent in the words "I" and "Us". In lines 1-6, Arnold is setting the mood by talking about the peaceful night on the calm sea with the moonlight glimmering on the land. Then the moonlight disappears behind the "cliffs of England." Waves come crashing into the shore and "fling the pebbles" onto the shore and draw back out to the sea again which represents the cycles of life. "Aegean's turbid ebb and flow" is the Greek author Sophocles's idea of the flow of "Human Misery." This implies that life is full of happiness and great things, but at the same time can be full of sadness. The whole poem is based on the metaphor of Sea to Faith. When the waves retreat, so does faith, which leaves us with nothing and that is certain. Arnold calls out to his love to be true to him and he will then be true to her also. Arnold believes that love is the only way to salvation from the often painful modern world of man. The poem uses a lot of alliteration especially in lines 4 and 31. There are really no other literary techniques used. Arnold feels that as modern man progresses, he is becoming lost in the empty...
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